Frequently Asked Questions


Do I have to study Music to audition?
No. Students studying any subject are very welcome to audition for a CUMS ensemble.
How do I sign up for an audition?
You can sign up for an audition on the CUMS website or at the CUSU Freshers’ Fair during Freshers’ week. Online audition sign-up will open later in the summer.
Do I need an accompanist?
No. CUMS cannot provide accompanists for the auditions, and although you are welcome to bring your own, it is not necessary to do so. Nearly all students perform without accompaniment and first round violinists must perform unaccompanied. It is absolutely fine to perform a piece which is usually accompanied, without the accompaniment.
Can I play a piece which is longer than the recommended time?
Please try to keep within the time limit for your chosen piece, as otherwise your audition will overrun and delay the timetable for the rest of day. You are very welcome to play an excerpt of a longer piece. To check what the time limit is for your instrument, please see the auditions information page.
I play more than one instrument. Can I audition on both?
Yes! Please book a separate audition slot for each instrument.
I don’t have my instrument with me. Can I still audition?
That depends on the instrument. CUMS own a large range of percussion instruments and a double bass (without a bow) but there might be other options for borrowing instruments, especially harps. Please email for advice.
Can I audition for more than one ensemble?
The CUMS orchestral auditions are centralised: you complete one audition (which may have two rounds) in order to be considered for all CUMS ensembles. If you would like to play in multiple ensembles throughout the year, please indicate this on your audition form and speak to one of the CUMS team. For some instruments, places are so limited and competitive that this will not be possible.
How are places in the ensembles allocated?
If your audition is successful, you will be assigned places in a number of concerts, most likely one of the following options:

A place in all Cambridge University Orchestra concerts for the year (chamber and symphonic).
A place in some Cambridge University Orchestra concerts (large-scale symphonic works).
A place in all Cambridge University Sinfonia concerts for the year.
A place in Cambridge University Wind Orchestra.

Please see the individual ensemble pages for further details about the number of places.
What if I only want to audition for one ensemble?
If you only want to audition for one particular ensemble, there will be an opportunity to indicate this on your audition form. You are also very welcome to discuss this with the auditioner.
I performed with CUMS last year. Do I need to audition again?
Yes. Players from last year’s orchestras who wish to continue to play must audition again at the start of the academic year, along with the new players.
Can I audition later in the year?
The main CUMS auditions take place in Freshers’ Week and places in all ensembles are filled as a result of these auditions. However, if you miss the audition period, it is sometimes possible to arrange an audition later in the year. Spaces in ensembles sometimes come up throughout the year (especially for string players) and you can also be added to our dep list. Where possible, though, you should audition in October to avoid missing out on a space.
I play the piano, how can I get involved with CUMS?
Please email with details of your orchestral experience. She will advise if there are any suitable opportunities for you.
I am not a student at Cambridge. Can I audition for the orchestras?
CUMS always welcomes local residents to audition for its ensembles. However, priority will be given to Cambridge students if spaces are limited.
Do you have any non-auditioned ensembles?
All of our ensembles are auditioned, which enables us to maintain high standards across the orchestras. If you are looking for a non-auditioned ensemble, there are plenty to choose from in Cambridge: your College is likely to have a non-audition orchestra, and you might also consider the University of Cambridge Concert Band or University of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra.


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