Student ensembles

Ensemble Studies ATS 1347/1348/2800/2801

Student Ensembles S2 2021

The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance has an exciting and wide range of music ensembles open to all students across the university. Participation is via 1) enrolment in the Ensemble Studies electives (ATS1347/1348/2800/2801), 2) completion of the ensemble selection google form before the first day of semester, and 3) for selected ensembles, there is a brief online audition component.

Important: Please read the ensemble specific audition requirements in the sections below before completing the ensemble selection google form. Students are only able to select one ensemble at a time on this form. If you would like to be considered for more than one ensemble (for example, if your first choice is full, or further audition is required), please complete one form per ensemble. All students are required to complete a registration form, even if your selected ensemble does not require an audition.

For any questions regarding entry requirements into these units, please contact the Ensemble Studies Coordinator, Roman Ponomariov via

ONLINE AUDITIONS are open for video submissions

Audition information

All auditions require upload of a short, 90-second video.
Students may choose to audition on more than one instrument (eg wind instrument doubling).
Please ensure you read the ensemble specific audition requirements in the sections below and/or contact the ensemble director directly.

Audition timeline

  • Video auditions due via the google form by 4pm Monday 26 July (first day of semester)
  • Students notified of audition of results by Thursday 29 July
  • Ensembles start in week 2

Start your audition/registration for S2 2021 here

Current Ensemble Offerings

Monash University Big Band

Director: Vanessa Perica

Overview: The Monash University Big Band is an eighteen-piece ensemble that explores the stylistic history of jazz and the stage band/big band repertoire.  The ensemble facilitates the development of students’ skills in improvisation, sight-reading, understanding of jazz styles and ensemble performance practices.  The Monash University Big Band has performed with international artists John Abercrombie, George Garzone, Maria Schneider, Tim Ries, Ed Partyka, Eddie Palmieri and his septet at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and with Argentinian New York based composer Guillermo Klein.

Entry: Please submit a 90 second video that provides an overall impression of your playing ability.

Rehearsal Times: Tuesdays 5 - 7 pm

Mode of Delivery: On Campus/Online

Contemporary Voice Ensemble

Director: Jacqueline Gawler

Overview: The Contemporary Voice Ensemble is an opportunity to explore an exciting palette of modern compositions for vocalists spanning jazz, gospel, pop, soul and world influences. Students will delve into a lush world of harmonies, challenging rhythmic concepts, vocal technique and the basics of contemporary improvisation.  Our eclectic repertoire draws on the very best of Australian contemporary vocal composition, American vocal jazz traditions, modern gospel material, as well as South Indian vocal percussion, encouraging a fresh approach to a cappella performance in all its forms.

Entry: No audition required

Rehearsal Times: Wednesday 1 - 3 pm

Mode of Delivery: On Campus

Audition Ensemble

Music Director: Roman Ponomariov

Overview: The Audition Ensemble presents a unique opportunity to sharpen your audition skills, putting you in a much stronger position for any future auditions for further studies, joining an ensemble, professional employment, or pitching projects. Let’s face it, audition skills are important and should not be regarded as something you’d work to develop after graduating! Moreover, auditions are often a hurdle to overcome in order to get from where you are, to where you ultimately want to be as a professional musician.

This opportunity will offer a structured and supportive environment by breaking down complex audition tasks, offering a weekly opportunity to perform, de-mystifying the audition process, sharpening your mental game and practice routines. Each student is encouraged to select their own audition repertoire to work on throughout the semester. Open to all instruments.

Entry: No audition required

Mode of Delivery: On campus. Students who are unable to attend in person, can participate via zoom.

Rehearsal Times: Thursday 4 - 6 pm

Funk Ensemble

Director: Ella Thompson

Overview: Monash Funk Ensemble incorporates elements of soul, jazz, R ’n B and pop — the classic ingredients of groove-based music. From James Brown to Vulfpeck, this ensemble will focus on the interplay between the rhythm, horn and vocal sections within the ensemble.

Entry: Please submit a 90 second video that provides an overall impression of your playing ability.

Rehearsal times: Thursday 9 - 11am

Mode of Delivery: On Campus

Latin Jazz Ensemble

Music Director: Vashti Sivell

Overview: This ensemble explores some of the diverse rhythmic styles of Latin music in the context of jazz and improvisation. This will include Afro-Cuban rhythms such as Son, Cha Cha, Songo, Rumba, Afro 68, as well as Brazilian styles commonly used in Latin Jazz. Students will gain an understanding of the concept of Cuban clave and its function as the foundation for rhythmic phrasing within the ensemble. Students will apply concepts learned to jazz standards, arrangements and compositions. There is a performance goal of 20min of recorded material, ideally with video as a final group project. Between classes, students will rehearse and record parts for in-class feedback.

Entry: Please submit a 90 second video that provides an overall impression of your playing ability.

Mode of Delivery: On Campus

Rehearsal Times: Thursday 4 - 6 pm

Music Theatre Chorus/Acting for Singers

Music Director: Gerald Marko

Overview: This newly restructured ensemble will give singers from all genres a chance to explore what we all have in common: lyrics, narrative or evoking emotion in the listener. Tailored for online delivery in 2021, ensemble director Gerald Marko will take you on a quest to find different ways of engaging with song narratives across all genres. The ensemble follows two main objectives: First, each student will be workshopped solo, on camera, in front of their peers, with a song of their choice (classical, jazz or popular). The main goal is to improve your connection to the narrative of the chosen piece and observe the impact on your audience. Peer feedback will be guided and encouraged. Second, the ensemble members will contribute to online recordings with audio and video, showcasing their work with text across multiple styles.

On a weekly basis, this means you will be creating and collaborating in a remote recording process, while the ensemble sessions comprise feedback on the recordings and short, rostered, solo masterclasses, where peers are encouraged to engage in problem solving and constructive feedback.

The sessions will be held via zoom, and it is essential that you have your camera on at all times. Technical requirements are an internet connection, functioning camera and microphone, and some ability to record yourself to submit audio and video tracks.

Mode of Delivery: On Campus / Online

Entry: Please submit a 90 second video that provides an overall impression of your playing ability.

Rehearsal Times: Wednesdays 5 - 7 pm

Pop, Soul and R&B

Music director: Ella Thompson

Overview: The Pop, Soul and R&B Ensemble comprises an instrumental rhythm section only in 2021 (no vocals or horns due to COVID restrictions). The repertoire is selected from a range of popular music styles, both contemporary and historical, performing original and traditional pop, soul and R&B compositions. The group focus for all students is on performance, arrangement, movement, and teamwork. Each member of the group is required to research material and be involved in arrangements.

Mode of Delivery: On Campus

Entry: Please submit a 90 second video that provides an overall impression of your playing ability.

Rehearsal Times: Thursdays 11 - 1 pm

Monash Sinfonia

Music Director: Dr Anna McMichael

Overview: In Sinfonia, we will be working on chamber works to suit our combination of instruments and to develop our chamber music performance skills. Gabrieli together with brass students, Vivaldi cello concerto, working towards the Cabaret Extravaganza in the Melbourne Fringe Festival and a new work by Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh featuring Percussion Coordinator Dr Louise Devenish.

Mode of Delivery: On Campus

Entry: Please submit a 90 second video that provides an overall impression of your playing ability.

Rehearsal Times: Fridays 3 - 5 pm

Improvisation Ensemble

Director: TBC

Overview: During this time of global upheaval and increased digital communication, the New Music Ensemble goes online, leaning into the challenges of online performance and transforming them into creative opportunities. In 2021 will embrace telematic performance, performing music that makes use of telecommunications and information technology to distribute the performers between two or more locations. The ensemble will explore a repertoire that accommodates issues such as audio latency, exploiting them in intentional and creative ways. In addition to performing existing work composed for this context, the ensemble will have the opportunity to develop original work.

Entry: No Audition required.

Rehearsal Times: Thursday 4 - 6 pm

Mode of Delivery: online / on - campus