Homerton has a varied and lively extra-curricular music scene, and we actively encourage our students to explore their love of music. There are ensembles for everyone, from the professionally-run Charter Choir and Homerton Singers to student-run groups such as the Concert Orchestra and Homerton Jazz. Music at Homerton is primarily organised by the Homerton College Music Society (HCMS), run by an elected committee of students and overseen by the Director of Music. HCMS organises weekly or fortnightly recitals by students and professionals, and there are larger ‘showcase’ concerts at the end of each term.
We have a number of student bands who are given the opportunity to perform at events like the Homerton May Ball or in more casual settings, such as at jazz performances after Formal Hall. Amongst our alumni there are a few famous bands you may have heard of, most notably the band Sports Team who were nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2020.
Dame Evelyn Glennie is an Honorary Fellow of the College, and her concert aluphone can be seen (and heard) in the Dining Hall.
Practice and performance facilities
Many rehearsals and performances take place in the Great Hall, a Victorian red-brick building at the heart of the College. The Charter Choir sings Choral Evensong each Tuesday evening at St John the Evangelist’s Church, just opposite the College.
Other facilities include a new auditorium located in the North Wing, the Paston Brown Room containing a Steinway model ‘O’ piano, and two new state-of-the-art practice rooms, offering bright, spacious, sound-proofed spaces in which to practise alone or as part of a small group. These are both equipped with baby grand pianos and a range of other instruments, including a one-manual harpsichord, a 16-stop harmonium. There is also an adjacent music storage room, containing a double-bass and a drumkit as well as amps, speakers, etc. Other practice spaces are available in the Mary Allen Building, which also contains another music storage room containing a xylophone, a marimba and tubular bells. For more casual practice, there are also pianos in the Junior Combination Room and Middle Combination Room.
Scholarships and prizes
Homerton offers a number of awards in music. Every year, competitions are held in composition and performance, with cash prizes available. We also offer choral, organ, accompanist, and conducting scholarships, awarded via competitive auditions.
The Charter Choir is Homerton’s premier music ensemble, conducted by Dr Daniel Trocmé-Latter, the Director of Music. It was founded in 2009–10, to coincide with the College gaining full status within the University of Cambridge. Comprising approximately 25 auditioned Choral Scholars and Volunteers, plus two Organ Scholars, it is a friendly community with an active agenda, singing a variety of music styles from different periods. The Choir has two commercial releases to its name, and has also featured on BBC Radio 3. It has just recorded its third commercial CD, on the Convivium label, to be released in 2024.
The Homerton Singers are an informal, non-auditioned choir, open to students and staff at Homerton as well as members of the wider community. The choir is directed by Dr Douglas Coombes MBE, an Associate Fellow of Homerton College.
Homerton has two orchestras: the Concert Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra. The Concert Orchestra is an unauditioned ensemble that rehearses weekly during term time. It that covers a variety of repertoire, from classical to film music to pop arrangements. The Symphony Orchestra is an occasional outfit that comes together to perform advanced repertoire with a couple of days of intense rehearsals. It normally performs two or three times per year. It draws on the strongest Homerton players supplemented by students from other Colleges where necessary. Both are directed by a Conducting Scholar, who is appointed through competitive auditions.
Homerton Jazz provides contemporary music opportunities that are not available at every Cambridge College. It comprises several smaller ensembles as well as the Homerton Jazz Orchestra (HoJO), a full-size big band primarily comprising students at Homerton. Our jazz musicians have played in a variety of settings, including to Prince Charles and the Revd. Jesse Jackson on their respective visits to Homerton in November and December 2021.
Homerton has its very own steel pan drumming society and band, Absolute Pandemonium. The band usually rehearses once a week, learning a range of songs from Christmas classics to pop songs and movie soundtracks. Throughout the year the band plays at events including concerts at Homerton, and garden parties and May balls both at Homerton and further afield.
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