Cambridge University Sinfonia (CUS)


Cambridge University Sinfonia is a high-quality symphony orchestra, drawn from top student instrumentalists in Cambridge. The Sinfonia performs a wide range of repertoire under its student Conducting Scholar and a range of prestigious guest conductors, which have recently included John Wilson, Sian Edwards, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Richard Armstrong and Libor Pesek. With each project, CUS members receive coaching from professional orchestral musicians.

Cambridge University Sinfonia perform four concerts per year: two in Michaelmas term, one in Lent term and a May Week Concert at the end of the year. CUS have also enjoyed highly successful tours over the past three years, and are looking forward to travelling to Prague in July 2017 (see the ‘Tours’ tab for more details).


A word from Isaac Barkway, CUS President 2017-18:

Cambridge University Sinfonia has a very exciting season ahead. Building on the success of the CUMS orchestras over the last year, we’re looking forward to performing four concerts as a full symphony orchestra, including some great repertoire – look out for Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, and of course our May week concert featuring Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, performed with the Cambridge University Symphony Chorus. We’re also looking forward to welcoming Adelaide Yue, who will be joining us to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, as well as CUMS Concerto Competition prizewinner Toby Hession, who will be playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto. We hope you’ll join us for what promises to be a varied and stimulating season of music-making!



2017-2018 Programme

Saturday 28 October: Natalia Luis-Bassa conducts Grieg Piano Concerto and Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5

Saturday 3 December: Toby Hession (CUMS Assistant Conductor) conducts Schumann, Beethoven and Mendelssohn

Saturday 10 March: Sibelius Symphony No.2 conducted by Naomi Woo (CUMS Conducting Scholar)

Saturday 16 June: Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem conducted by Jeremy Jackman, plus a new work by CUMS Composer in Residence, William Cole.



Recent conductors, soloists and coaches


Sir Roger Norrington, Sian Edwards, John Wilson, David Hill, Sir Richard Armstrong, Libor Pesek, Martin Yates, Jamie Phillips, Carlos Izcary, Rory Macdonald

Peter Donohoe, piano; Oliver Coates, cello; Kristine Balanas, violin; Sergey Levitin, violin; Virginie Robilliard violin; Fiachra Garvey, piano

Charles Mutter, leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra
Simon Channing, head of woodwind at Royal College of Music
David McCallum, trumpeter in BBC Concert Orchestra
Keith Bragg, head of woodwind at Royal Academy of Music

For more information about the Sinfonia please contact Alice Greenwood at

To view the 2017-18 rehearsal schedule, please click here


Saturday 10 March 2018
West Road Concert Hall

Kaija Saariaho Lumière et Pesanteur
Elgar Sea Pictures
Sibelius Symphony No.2
Naomi Woo, conductor
Helen Charlston, mezzo-soprano


2017-18 CUS Concert Programme

John Tothill conducts, December 2016

Saturday 28 October 2017, 8pm
Beethoven Egmont Overture
Grieg Piano Concerto
Tchaikovsky Symphony No.5
Natalia Luis-Bassa, conductor
Toby Hession, piano


Saturday 25 November 2017, 8pm
Schumann Faust Overture
Beethoven Piano Concerto No.3
Mendelssohn Symphony No.5
Toby Hession, conductor
Adelaide Yue, piano


Saturday 10 March 2018, 8pm
Kaija Saariaho Lumière et Pesanteur
Elgar Sea Pictures
Sibelius Symphony No.2
Naomi Woo, conductor
Helen Charlston, mezzo-soprano


Saturday 16 June 2018, 8pm
William Cole New Work (World Premieère)
Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem
Naomi Woo & Jeremy Jackman, conductors
Cambridge University Symphony Chorus

Concert Archive

A note on CUMS Symphony Orchestra
In 2017, the CUMS ensembles were restructured (for more details please see the Ensembles introduction). Previously, the Society had three orchestras: Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra, CUMS Symphony Orchestra and CUMS Concert Orchestra. The Society now forms just two orchestras from the same body of players: Cambridge University Orchestra and Cambridge University Sinfonia. The Sinfonia performs the same number of concerts as CUMS Symphony Orchestra previously did and is largely made up of CUMS Symphony Orchestra players, but it is a more flexible ensemble. This enables some players to move between CUO and CUS throughout the year depending on the repertoire which is being performed.


Social Media
Find Cambridge University Sinfonia on Facebook and Twitter!

Interviews and blog posts
“What a splendid time I had with CUMS in May Week! The Chorus was superb; the Orchestra excellent and so open to new ideas. These are groups which have evidently got steadily better over the years I have been away! Any undergraduate would be lucky to sing or play in them. There’s something really thrilling about being part of a large group making music well, as they do. I greatly look forward to the next time I can join them” Sir Roger Norrington, July 2010

Blog post: President Sacha Lee talks about why the orchestra has become such an important part of her Cambridge experience.

Interview: Social Secretary Jeremy Judge describes life as part of the orchestra.

Read about the orchestra’s involvement in the Icarus project.


Listen to recordings of the CUMS ensembles

We are very pleased to share clips of the recording of the Symphony Orchestra concert, with conductor Carlos Izcaray and violinist Virginie Robilliard which took place in West Road Concert Hall on 8 March 2014. The recording was by Black Swan Productions and we are grateful to Carlos Izcaray for giving us permission to show these clips.


Tour 2016: The Rhineland
In July 2016, CUMS Symphony Orchestra set off for Germany, where they gave three outstanding concerts under the baton of Joel Sandelson. The orchestra performed an all-Russian programme including Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.2 to large audiences in Cologne, Andernach and Bonn. Performing in the impressive Bonn University Hall was a particular highlight. Outside of the busy concert schedule, there was time for a number of leisure activities: climbing up Cologne Cathedral, watching the famous Andernach cold water geyser, visiting Beethoven’s birthplace in Bonn and, of course, sampling the German beer!

Helen McKeown, Tour Manager
















Tour 2015: Amsterdam
CUMS SO spent five days in Amsterdam, where they performed Elgar’s ‘In the South’ and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, conducted by Joel Sandelson. One of the concerts was broadcast live on local television.


Tour 2014: Ghent
CUMS SO performed Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Ginastera’s Estancia Suite in Ghent, as part of the Gentse Feesten.


Cambridge University Sinfonia Committee 2017-18


Each CUMS ensemble has its own student committee, which runs the ensemble’s rehearsals, concerts and social events. They are supported by the Concerts and Marketing Assistant (a graduate role), the Performance Assistant (a joint role with the Faculty of Music) and the Executive Director. If you would like to get in touch or have a suggestion about the ensemble, the Ensemble President is a good place to start. For more information on how CUMS is run, please see the Society Information page.

Isaac Barkway –

Publicity Officer
Roy Navid –

Social Secretary

Sofia Greaves –

Social Media Officer

Lizzie Nightingale –


CUMS staff
Concerts and Marketing Assistant
Alice Greenwood –

Performance Assistant
Katharine Ambrose –

CUMS Executive Director
Chloe Davidson –

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I perform with Cambridge University Sinfonia?
If you wish to be considered for a place in CUS, you must audition. CUMS Auditions take place at the start of each academic year, during Freshers’ Week. All members of the previous year’s orchestra must re-audition along with the new players. For more information about auditions, including how to sign up, please see here.

How are CUS places allocated?
CUS is a flexible ensemble which works in conjunction with Cambridge University Orchestra (CUO). When you audition for CUMS, if successful, you will be offered places in a number of concerts for the entire Season. Some players move between CUO and CUS throughout the year, some play in CUS for the whole year and some join CUS for one concert per term.

Following your CUMS audition, if successful, you will most likely be offered one of the following options:

1. A place in all CUO concerts for the year (both chamber and symphonic).
2. A place in all or most CUO symphonic repertoire concerts (December 2017, January 2018 and February 2018), and a place in CUS when you are not performing with CUO (most likely, October 2017 and June 2018 – with a professional conductor and ‘intense’ rehearsal schedule).
3. A place in all CUS concerts for the year (October 2017, November 2017, March 2018 and June 2018).
4. A place in two CUS concerts (most likely, November 2017 and March 2018 – with a student conductor and a more spread-out rehearsal schedule).

To view the 2017-18 rehearsal schedules for both orchestras, see here.

Please note that there may be exceptions to these options for some instruments, depending on orchestration. Your concert commitments for the year will be made very clear following your audition.



Registered Charity No. 1149534

Cambridge University Musical Society
West Road Concert Hall
11 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP
Principal Guest Conductor
Sir Roger Norrington CBE
CUMS Conductor Laureate
Stephen Cleobury CBE
Director, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
Martin Ennis
Artistic Advisor
Sian Edwards
Associate Directors, Cambridge University Chamber Choir
David Lowe, Nicholas Mulroy