Music at King's

Musicians at King's Funday

King's has a very active music scene. A wide range of music is performed and enjoyed by students, staff and fellows alike, and we try hard to cater for musicians of all abilities and tastes.

King's provides a friendly and stimulating environment both to practice and develop existing skills, and to share interests or discover something new. It's easy to get together to form a band or group, or find out what people are listening to on another continent from someone who has lived there. Some of the most exciting evenings at King's are ground-breaking in that way - exploring ways of putting music from different contexts together, and combining the interests and talents of a group of students. We run a database of King's musicians, so that people can quickly find other members with compatible interests and skills.

There are two music practice rooms on the main site, and further practice rooms are available at the King's College School. Our two Steinway pianos can be played by students. The King's Students' Union provides audio equipment for club nights, and the College has a number of social spaces which work well for events of all kinds.

King's College Music Society

KCMS concert

Rehearsal for the May Week Concert

Getting involved in King's College Music Society (KCMS), either as an orchestral player, soloist, audience member, or assuming a position on the committee, means joining one of the most vibrant music societies in Cambridge.

King's is a very musically talented college, known for its versatility and diversity. Each year the society showcases the talent of both King's musicians and musicians across the University.

May Week concert

A huge range of music is covered, with large-scale orchestral concerts each term held in our stunning, world-famous Chapel, as well as quirky and intimate concerts in our very own Provost's drawing room.

In addition, KCMS draws upon other academic disciplines in programming, taking advantage not only of the wide musical talent in the college and the university, but also the academic rigour which makes Cambridge famous worldwide. This is an exciting and welcoming society for anyone with a passion for music.

For more information, see the King's College Music Society page.

Instrumental Awards


David studies Linguistics and holds a Cornwell Scholarship for Clarinet

King's offers two Derek Cornwell Scholarships each year for talented musical instrumentalists. The award of a Cornwell Scholarship is intended to enable the recipients to continue to develop their performing ability and experience. Scholars are required to take a prominent role in enriching the musical life of King's College, including giving at least one solo or ensemble recital in College during the year. The Cornwell Scholarships are advertised to King's students and applications are made in Michaelmas term (the first term of the academic year).

The College also participates in the University instrumental award scheme. If you have reached a high standard in any of the following instruments you should read the further details: piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn.

A student band on Funday

Student bands / open mic nights

King's has student bands and groups of all kinds. There are plenty of opportunities for students to play together or on their own at the regular open mic nights in King's bar and events in College such as end-of-term Mingles or the summer Funday. It's a good chance to practice performing informally amongst friends, and everyone appreciates the music and atmosphere.

Student club nights and King's Ents

Students at a turntable

King's students organise their own club nights in the King's Bunker, and this includes the all-important choice of music! If you love dance music and want to be involved in selecting and inviting DJ's or being a DJ yourself, it is lots of fun. The King's Bunker Committee has the equipment and you'll be given all the support you need. Whether you have a lot of experience already or are spinning the decks for the first time at King's, it's a great opportunity to share your enthusiasm and give your friends a fantastic night.

Music night

William playing at a Mingle
Photo: Lucy Scovell

As well as organising their own nights, the Ents (entertainment) officers also organise King's outings to events around Cambridge, such as concerts at the Junction or specific events at local clubs. The Mingles at the end of the first two terms and the King's Affair in the summer are larger events with multiple sources of live music and DJs in the different spaces around College as well as a silent disco in the Hall (the music is in your headphones).


Choral Scholar in a recording session

Recording session for a new CD

King's has a rich choral tradition. King's College Choir (a male voice choir made up of Choral Scholars and choristers) is one of the world's best known choral groups, most famous for singing A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, the Christmas Eve service broadcast by the BBC since 1928, and listened to by millions worldwide. King's Voices is the College's mixed voice choir. They have a regular programme of rehearsals and services and sing Evensong in the Chapel every Monday during University terms. Students who get a place in King's Voices are awarded Choral Exhibitions and offered subsidies for singing lessons. At Christmas, a non-audition choir is formed to sing carols in the Chapel.

Concerts at King's

Concerts at King's flyer

Concerts at King's is an annual series of concerts organised by the King's Director of Music, Stephen Cleobury. The programme is performed by various ensembles and orchestras, including the College's quartet in residence, the Dante Quartet, and Cambridge University's Musical Society (CUMS). There are regular opportunities to listen to high quality performances from both amateur and professional musicians performing in King's. See the Concerts at King's page.

Rowe Music Library

Rowe Music Library

King's is lucky to have an excellent specialist music collection (both for study and for music-making) in addition to the standard library. The Rowe Music Library is open to all members of College and books can be borrowed. The library is particularly rich in eighteenth-century printed music and is an exciting collection to browse. See further information.

Audio Library

King's subscribes to three simultaneous logins to the Naxos Music Library, a large classical music listening service with 90,000 tracks of music in 6,000 CDs. The service covers the complete Naxos, Marco Polo and Da Capo catalogues.

When reading about life at King's, do bear in mind that whilst many King's students get involved in all kinds of activities in addition to their academic work, admissions decisions are based strictly on academic potential.

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