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 30 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/ABRSM. 

Members of the UNSW Orchestra are eligible for the Willgoss Instrumental Prize each year.



Time:  6:30-9:00pm, Tuesdays during Academic Term

Location: Sir John Clancy Auditorium

2024 Schedule can be viewed here


Program 2: Cosmic Cycles - A Space Symphony

In Term 2, UNSW Orchestra will delve into a unique program showcasing 'Cosmic Cycles - A Space Symphony' by American composer Henry Dehlinger. This 75-minute composition is a collaborative project involving the National Philharmonic, Henry Dehlinger, and NASA, incorporating breathtaking visuals from the space agency.

Watch the video below to learn more about this piece and the story behind its commission.


Available positions: Trumpet, Trombone, Clarinet

If you are interested in joining Orchestra in Term 2, please email us at cmc@unsw.edu.au to organise an audition.

Given the elevated risk of music ensemble activities, we encourage all members of our ensembles to be fully-vaccinated for COVID-19. Musicians are welcome to wear masks, and we require all ensemble members to adhere to UNSW’s COVID-19 Response: https://www.covid-19.unsw.edu.au/

If you are unwell with COVID-19 and unable to attend campus, an online stream of rehearsals will be made available to you upon request. Please note that this is intended to be a face-to-face activity, so members who attend more than two rehearsals via the online stream may not be eligible to participate in the performance, a decision made by the ensemble conductor.