Close-up of drums

Playing opportunities

There are plenty of playing opportunities at UWE Bristol, from inspirational orchestral soundscapes to jazzing it up with the Big Band to performing with technology – and all sorts in between!

Exploring African Rhythm and Melody with Nick Clough

If you are looking for something completely different, try these exciting workshops offered throughout the year by an experienced and inspirational tutor in association with the Centre for Performing Arts (CPA).

Traditional West African musical patterns and flows are used as a basis for creating new songs and for encouraging rhythmic improvisation.

Drums, xylophones and other percussion instruments are provided for those who do not have their own. Participants who have their own musical instruments are invited to include their sounds and textures in the music making.

We intend to create a collective that can provide musical accompaniments in community settings in and around Bristol. Previous members have chosen to work in a variety of settings, for example:

  • inventing percussion parts to support a performance of David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus at the Colston Hall
  • enhancing the social experience of an all-night charcoal burning session in an ancient piece of woodland on the edge of Dartmoor.

Beginners and experienced players are welcomed to join together. You will meet new friends, make and record music together and choose how you share your creations in wider community settings.

Exploring African Rhythm and Melody sessions are held at certain times throughout the year, in the CPA building on Frenchay Campus.

If you are interested in exploring this music, please email your expression of interest to us at in the first instance, and we’ll be in touch when the workshops take place.

UWE Bristol Big Band

The Big Band has a devoted following of both players and audience, and welcomes experienced instrumentalists to its ranks, subject to vacancies.

The band is in demand for concerts and dances. They performed at a variety of different venues last year throughout the South West, in the city of Bristol and on campus. Most recently, they gave a highly successful performance at the Festival of Sound in the Lantern at The Colston Hall, and performed to a completely sold-out Winterbourne Medieval Barn.

For details of performances check out the CPA events page or ask at the CPA office.

Rehearsals are held on Mondays at 19:00–21:00 in Central Teaching Room 2E027, Frenchay Campus. In addition to Centre staff involvement, the Big Band is privileged to have local jazz musicians Nick Attwood (trombone) and Ben Waghorn (saxophones) on the creative leadership team.

For more information about vacancies, please contact Dr Max Davies on +44 (0)117 32 84308 or by email at

Chamber Music Programme (small instrumental groups)

Please see Repertoire Lab.

Chamber Orchestra

The UWE Chamber Orchestra is for experienced players with an interest in performing a wide spectrum of music.

Rather than meeting weekly, the Chamber Orchestra meets for intensive weekend courses to prepare for performances.

Please visit the CPA sound clips page to hear the UWE Chamber Orchestra in action.

If you're interested in performing in the Chamber Orchestra or require more information, please contact Maxwell Davies on +44 (0)117 32 84308 or by email at

Classical Guitar Group

An opportunity for guitarists to explore the classical guitar and ensemble repertoire.

It is important that you are able to read notation and have achieved a minimum of Grade 3 guitar, either from the ABRSM or Trinity Guildhall boards.

If you have experience of guitar playing in other genres and are able to read notation, we can provide you with a classical guitar for participation in this group.

The tutor is Dom Brown, and the group meets every Monday during term time, 19:00-21:00 at the CPA on Frenchay Campus.

For more information, please contact

Contemporary Music Group

Please see Repertoire Lab.

UWE Bristol Groove Collective

This exciting collective is open to singers and instrumentalists and will give you the chance to rehearse and perform popular hits from the soul/pop/disco and funk genres. The choir and band rehearse at the same time in separate rooms and then come together periodically to perfect their performance, complete with some choreography. As well as classics by Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Beyoncé, Nina Simone etc, recently the group has tackled songs of The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Kasabian, Jess Glynne and many more.

No audition is necessary, and membership is open to anyone prepared to have a good time.

As well as vocal harmony singing, there will be plenty of opportunities for people to take solos, so it's a great experience for anyone who loves singing. Be prepared for a boogie! Although you won't be able to stop yourself once the band starts playing.

Rehearsals are on Wednesday nights from 19:00–21:00 in Central Teaching Area rooms 2E025 and 2E027, Frenchay Campus.

For more details please contact Dr Max Davies on +44 (0)117 32 84308 or by emailing

UWE Jazz

This is an instrumental and vocal group that is smaller in scale to the UWE Big Band, which focuses mainly on reinterpretation and improvisation.

The performance group comprises of a standard rhythm section (piano, bass, drums and guitar) with up to four horns (trumpet, saxes, trombone) and between one and three vocalists. We work mainly from Real Book standards (such as All of Me, Cheek to Cheek and Blue Moon), as well as tackling and reinterpreting folk tunes, popular music and even classical repertoire.

Everyone is welcome to attend rehearsal sessions, even if you have no experience of performing jazz or improvising. There is no audition, and a fun and supportive environment is guaranteed for anyone who wishes to take part. There will be opportunities for performances on and off campus, although we may need to rotate who performs depending on numbers.

UWE Jazz performs regularly at CPA LIVE! in The Students' Union at UWE Bristol on Mondays 17:00-18:00, and provides music for many of the University's in-house functions, conferences and also external events.

Rehearsals are held every Tuesday during term time, 16:00-18:00 in Rehearsal Room 2 at the Centre for Performing Arts, Frenchay Campus. There are occasional extra rehearsals or rescheduling when performances are approaching.

For more information, please contact Dr Max Davies on +44 (0)117 32 84308 or by emailing

Keyboard Lab (free piano lessons for members, taught in groups)

If you’re interested in learning the piano, then the CPA is offering groups lessons in the Keyboard Lab. Groups of up to eight people learn from a single tutor.

It is a silent class, and all communication and generated sound from playing is confined to headphones. Initially, simple exercises will be explored but more individualised activity will be explored as the term progresses.

Initially, there will be two weekly sessions. One at 15:00-16:00 and the other at 19:00-20:00 on Wednesdays in Rehearsal Room 4 at the CPA on Frenchay Campus.

For more information, or to register your interest, please contact Dr Max Davies on +44 (0)117 32 84308 or by emailing


The CPA has excellent piano practice facilities and several of its ensembles have opportunities for pianists.

If you are interested in playing in small instrumental groups, accompanying soloists, or finding a piano duet partner, please see Please see Repertoire Lab for opportunities.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact the CPA.

Repertoire Lab

The UWE Bristol CPA Repertoire Lab explores lots of different kinds of music no matter what you play or at what level. Singers are welcome too. It is intended as a space where you can come and make music in a supportive environment, with tutors on hand for coaching and advice.

You might be interested in classical chamber music, and we have an extensive collection of music for a range of different ensembles. You might be interested in exploring more popular repertoire, such as covers of popular songs, or jazz repertoire. Maybe improvisation is your thing, or performing with technology, or just getting together and having a jam and seeing where things go.

Once things settle and clear groups around particular interests have formed, CPA staff and outside tutors will then work with you towards a number of performance opportunities.

Repertoire Lab runs on Wednesdays, 14:30-17.30 at the CPA on Frenchay Campus, and in the Central Teaching Area rooms 2E025 and 2E027.

For more information, or to register your interest, please contact Dr Max Davies on +44 (0)117 32 84308 or by emailing

Saxophone Group

This is a lively, friendly and very flexible group that keeps advanced players interested whilst giving those with less experience plenty to do. A spin-off from our Big Band (although you don’t need to be a member of the Big Band to join!), most of the music played is in jazz and popular styles, and is specifically written for saxophone ensembles.

The repertoire is varied by including some arrangements of classical works and pieces based on folk tunes. We perform in a wide variety of settings – formal, informal, on and off campus. You may have the chance to entertain guests enjoying wine and canapés at social functions, perform at lunchtime and evening concerts, or make UWE Bristol resound to the sound of Christmas carols.

The tutor is saxophonist Keith Morgan, and rehearsals are on Tuesdays from 19:30–21:15 in the Centre for Performing Arts, Frenchay Campus. Please contact the CPA for further information.

UWE Bristol NoiseLab

Everyone is welcome to take part in the exciting NoiseLab course that revolves around using hardware and software for experimental music production.

This year, the course will run on the following Wednesday evenings in the Crofters Rights, Stokes Croft:

  • Wednesday 04 October 2017
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017
  • Wednesday 01 November 2017
  • Wednesday 15 November 2017
  • Wednesday 22 November 2017
  • Wednesday 07 February 2018
  • Wednesday 14 February 2018
  • Wednesday 21 February 2018
  • Wednesday 11 April 2018
  • Wednesday 18 April 2018

There will be a workshop from 18:00-20:00, then a gig from 21:00-23:00

Bring your laptop and ideas to this free-for-all activity.

For further details please email the course tutor, Dr Zlatko Baracskai, at You don't need to sign up for this course in advance – simply turn up.

The UWE BeatsLab Facebook page also has announcements about the NoiseLab course (please note that you don't need to join this Facebook group in order to take part in the course).


ReVinyl workshops bring people together and offer a comfortable environment to learn how to DJ. Participants select records to play, and eventually collaborate with live instrumentalists who provide improvised accompaniment.

Performances are organised throughout the year on and off campus. The group always draws a supportive audience and these gigs offer the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals.

Revinyl workshops run fortnightly on Thursday evenings, 19:30-21:30, in CPA Rehearsal Room 3 on Frenchay Campus, beginning on 28 September 2017.

For more information, please email Jack Barnett at

Symphony Orchestra

The Orchestra performs a challenging and varied repertoire in venues such as the Colston Hall, Bristol Cathedral, Clifton Cathedral and St George's Bristol. It also accompanies the University Singers in concerts throughout the year and at the annual UWE Bristol Carol Service.

In recent years, the orchestra has tackled some of the great works in the standard repertoire, including: Poulenc’s Gloria, Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Brahms’s Symphony No. 2, Karl Jenkins’s Requiem (with world-renowned shakuhachi virtuoso Clive Bell), Malcolm Arnold’s Cornish Dances and English Dances, Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Rossini's William Tell Overture, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Orff's Carmina Burana, Elgar's The Music Makers, Williams's Star Wars Symphonic Suite, Holst's The Planets, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5, Respighi's Pines of Rome and Walton's Belshazzar’s Feast.

The orchestra is not afraid to tackle new or unusual repertoire. Indeed, it has given premieres and performances of works by composers amongst UWE Bristol’s staff who are closely affiliated with the CPA Dr Liz Lane, Dr Max Davies and Dr Adrian Hull – including works commissioned as part of Bristol Green Capital 2015.

For the 2017/18 Autumn term, the orchestra will be preparing for two concerts. One on campus for which we will be preparing Sibelius’s Symphony No 1. For the concert at Clifton Cathedral, we’ll be exploring slightly different repertoire, including Taizé chants, and Gavin Bryars’s Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet.

The Orchestra is conducted and managed by senior members of Centre staff. It has support from professional musicians in all sections as part of a side-by-side scheme designed to provide additional outstanding learning in a rehearsal context.

Players of all orchestral instruments are invited to apply for membership. Woodwind, brass and percussion players should be at least ABRSM Grade 7 (or equivalent), and string players should have achieved Grade 6 (or equivalent). There are occasional auditions when demand exceeds supply in certain sections and instruments.

Rehearsals take place on Thursdays from 19:30–21:30 in Central Teaching Room 2E027, Frenchay Campus.

For more information, please contact Maxwell Davies on +44 (0)117 32 84308 or by email at

Woodwind Ensemble

Please see Repertoire Lab.

Keep in touch with the CPA

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