UNSW Orchestra

The UNSW Orchestra was founded in 1989 to bring the live performance of fine music to the University community and to the many people who live in the surrounding suburbs.

The Orchestra was established by three undergraduate students, Jan Howe, Richard Pulley and Emery Schubert, with guidance from Professor Roger Covell of the (then) School of Music and Music Education and was initially funded by a grant from the (then) Vice Chancellor, Professor Michael Birt. The vitality of the Orchestra today owes much to all these founders’ vision and caring.

The Orchestra’s repertoire is broadly from the Classical (1750-1810) and Romantic (1810-1910) eras. More recent works, especially works by contemporary Australian composers, are well represented in the Orchestra's programs, as is film music from the past four decades. Concertos for various solo instruments figure prominently. The soloists in these concertos are mostly students from the University’s music department. All musicians are members  of UNSW Society of Orchestra and Pipers

The Orchestra's first concert took place on 15 August 1989, and on 14 May 2010 it gave its 100th public performance. There are, at any one time, about 65 players in the Orchestra. Additional guest players are brought in as the need arises, usually for the rarer instruments such as bass clarinet, contrabassoon, harp and celeste, or when a large-scale symphonic work is on the program.

More than 1000 UNSW students both from UNSW School of the Arts and Media and other faculties, staff and alumni have played in the Orchestra over the first 23 years of its existence. This remarkable figure shows what a wealth of amateur musical talent there is on campus. It also reflects the inevitable annual turnover among players, as existing players go off with their degrees and new players join.

The minimum standard is Grade 8 AMEB.

UPDATE 8 September 2020: TERM 3 2020

Time: Tuesday 15 September - 17 November from 5.30pm

In Term 3, for safety reasons, we are only permitted to offer face-to-face rehearsals to our orchestra members for a string ensemble. 

This will be a blended delivery, with in-person weekly rehearsals for those that can attend campus, and an online live stream of the rehearsal each week for those unable to attend campus.  

This will take place each Tuesday for 10 weeks during term. One class has been arranged at this time however, classes will be offered based on demand. If you are unable to attend this class time, please email us to be placed on the waiting list. Email: cmc@unsw.edu.au and we will notify you should a second class become available. 

Rehearsal times: 5.30pm

A maximum of 15 people will be accepted per session. 

Specific details regarding face-to-face and online will be distributed shortly. These face-to-face activities will be live-streamed (but not recorded) for those who are unable to participate in-person to access online. 

Please note that community members who are not current UNSW Students or current UNSW staff are not permitted to visit campus at this time, so will only be able to participate online. Participants will be notified should this situation change during the term. 



  1. Complete the relevant Training & Compliance: https://www.covid-19.unsw.edu.au/training-compliance-security
  2. Register for UNSW Orchestra String Ensemble: Register Here
  3. We are open to new members. Places are limited and by audition. Please contact cmc@unsw.edu.au to receive details of the video audition process. 

 If the above registration button does not work, please copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/unsw-orchestral-strings-registrations-t3-2020-registration-119967741745