Student ensembles

The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music has a wide range of music ensembles open to all students across the university. Participation is via enrolment in the Ensemble Studies electives (ATS1347/1348/2800/2801). Ensembles are open to all who would like to add some extra music to their studies, and entry is via the link to the audition/entry form. Please ensure you read the ensemble specific audition requirements in the sections below. For any questions regarding entry requirements into these units, please contact the Ensemble Studies Coordinator – Gerald Marko.

LEO – Large Ensembles Online in 2020

The school will be offering all Ensemble Units in 2020. Ensemble 1 and 3 (ATS1347/2800) will be offered online as weekly classes in Semester 2, 2020.
All large ensembles will be offered, with an accessible, audiovisual outcome shared at an online Day Of Play event at the conclusion of the semester.
Ensemble 2 and 4 (ATS1348/2801) will be offered in Summer Semester A, which runs from December 7th-18th 2020, as a 2 week intensive. This will also be offered online as we are not able to offer in person tuition at that time. We will be consulting the most up to date health advice for music practice throughout the year, and be following it carefully. Your health is of the utmost importance to us, as is our commitment to provide you with the best possible music education we can.

ONLINE AUDITIONS/ENTRY are open for video submissions

Please note that not all ensembles have an audition requirement, however, all students need to complete one online form and video submission per ensemble they wish to register for. The audition/entry portal is open for online submissions and includes the upload of a short video (90s, 100MB). Please ensure you read the ensemble specific audition requirements in the sections below or contact your ensemble director directly.

The link below will also show you all currently offered ensembles you can sign up for.

Start your audition video submission here

Ensembles offered in across all semesters, please click the audition link above to see which ensembles are offered in the upcoming semester, including summer semester.

Big Band

Director: Jordan Murray (

Overview: For Semester two, 2020, the Monash Big Band will engage in exciting recording projects. As always, the projects will explore the stylistic history of big band repertoire, while developing your skills in sight-reading, improvisation, diverse musical styles and high-level ensemble performance.

Process: Between classes, you will be recording your single instrumental tracks to guide/click tracks and putting these together within your section and submitting them prior to each session. In class, we will discuss the submitted recordings, provide feedback, experiment and work on improving the recorded outcome. Our goal is 20min of recorded material, ideally with video footage to create online content!

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

Rehearsal Time: Thursday, 4.30pm – 6.30pm

Contemporary Gospel Choir

Director: Charmaine Jones (

Overview: This semester we will be studying varying forms of the ‘gospel music’, going back to field hollers, call and response, work songs, and traditional spirituals.

Getting familiar with

A) repetitive patterns

B) what it means to riff in a gospel style

C) improvisation and the utilization of rhythm within the pentatonic scale

We will begin by learning traditional spirituals (Down By The Riverside, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Go Down Moses) to familiarise ourselves with the sounds and concepts of African-American music after the amalgamation of slave-trade. We will also look at jazz blues, incorporating tunes like 'Work Song' - based on the chain gang. History and art will collide when we take on tasks such as being required to write a simple repetitive blues head, typifying the traditional gospel style influence in lyrics. Repertoire wise, we will be looking at some obscure “gospel” style tunes this semester and traditional old school “black gospel” (which might not be familiar to you). Put a Little Love in Your Heart, an old school track originally composed by Randy Myers and Jimmy Holiday, performed by Jackie DeShannon in 1969. Let There be Peace on Earth, the 1955 tune composed by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller, famously performed in 1967 by the great Mahalia Jackson. There will be other such tunes, harmonised, arranged and modernised in a contemporary gospel way for the relevance of where we find ourselves with the evolution of gospel music today whilst paying homage to the old school roots. We will also look at some contemporary composers such as Kirk Franklin - Conquerors, Let Me Touch You. Ron Kenoly - God is able.

Audition Requirements: Your Imminent audition piece must be a blues, gospel or jazz/swing tune of your choice, with some references to embellishment (licks stylised in the appropriate genre) and use of straight tone plus release into vibrato. Don’t be afraid of using your range even in the short expanse of 90 seconds. I want to hear what you bring to the table!

Rehearsal Time: Wednesday, 9am – 11pm

Funk Ensemble

Director: Tony Floyd (

Overview: “FEEL GOOD MUSIC, I’VE BEEN TOLD.  GOOD FOR THE BODY, GOOD FOR THE SOUL”. MONASH FUNK will incorporate elements of soul, jazz, R ’n B and pop — the classic ingredients for this groove based music. From James Brown to Vulfpeck, this ensemble will focus on interplay between each section -Rhythm, Horns and Vocals.

Within classes, section parts will be explored within the chosen repertoire so that between classes students will work on layering tracks for recording, creating a finished and polished group of tracks. Our goal by semester’s end is around 20min of recorded material with video footage to create online content.

Entry/Audition: Please submit a maximum 90sec. video of yourself playing either playing solo or to backing track in Funk/Groove style

(E.g. G-minor funk play-along for various instruments). Singers can choose backing track or can accompany themselves.  Try and give examples of tight playing of melody and parts and also some expressive improvisation ideas.

Rehearsal Time: Thursday, 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Gamelan Ensemble

Monash University Gamelan Orchestra uses the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music’s Javanese gamelan, an Indonesian percussion orchestra consisting of resonant bronze gongs, gong-chimes and metallophones plus drums and other instruments. It provides a unique ensemble and cultural experience that simultaneously caters for beginners and more advanced players with instruments covering a wide range of technical difficulty. Beginner learn to play a range of instruments while more advanced players can specialize in one or two instruments. Repertoire ranges from lively pieces at fast tempos to softer slower pieces with singing. Monash University Gamelan Orchestra also provides opportunities for composers to explore the Javanese gamelan as a compositional resource.

Offered: semester 2

Entry: No audition – registration in week 1 of semester


Dr Adrian McNeil

Latin Jazz Ensemble

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 how this works as the foundation for rhythmic phrasing within the ensemble. Students will have the opportunity to apply concepts to Jazz standards, arrangements and compositions. Featuring horns, rhythm section, percussionists and vocals, the Latin Jazz Ensemble is a dynamic high-energy group! 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 which we will assess for improvement during class.

Audition Requirements: Please submit a 90sec video playing a Jazz standard in a Latin music style, a traditional Latin music example, or an original work in this style. Demonstrate an emerging understanding of phrasing a melody and improvisation.

Rehearsal Time: Thursday, 11am – 1pm

The Modal Music Ensemble is an intercultural project which draws upon the creative melodic and rhythmic practices outside of an explicit harmonic environment. The repertoire of this unique ensemble comprises of contemporary tunes that draws about reworked traditional musical approaches and improvisatory practices from across Asia. Participation in this ensemble will help you develop structured improvisation skills, ways of constructing melody based on modal thought and strategies to gain greater confidence in rhythmic fluency.

Offered: semester 1

Entry: By audition in week 1 of semester or via appointment by the ensemble director


Dr Adrian McNeil

Monash Academy Orchestra

Director: Roman Ponomariov (

Caitlin Chessel Madu (

Overview: In Semester 2 2020 the Monash Academy Orchestra will engage in an online project working on recording and filming the following works:

  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony no 3 (Finale)
  • Richard Strauss – Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare
  • Stuart Greenbaum – Rotation of the Earth

Students will get a chance to work closely with Benjamin Northey (Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Conductor in Residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Flinders String Quartet and Principal wind, brass, and percussion players of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Audition requirements:

Rehearsal Time: TBA

Monash Art Ensemble

The Monash Art Ensemble (MAE) is comprised of a dynamic array of members from across Victoria, who come together to present never-to-be-repeated events of enduring appeal: powerful, virtuosic performances of cultural nuance, that melt together a diverse range of compositional and performance styles. At the heart of the Ensemble is an enduring expression of the new, the unexplored and the sonically irresistible. Emerging musicians, Monash University staff and guest artists from around Australia and the globe join together to create the compelling.

The MAE project was established by Professor Paul Grabowsky AO in 2012. The innovative team leading the Ensemble also include Associate Professor Robert Burke, Dr Paul Williamson, Jordan Murray and Megan Burslem. With the support of Head of School Professor Cat Hope and Monash University, our team work to produce innovative and immersive research-based, experimental performance-composition performances, recordings and experiences. Since its establishment, the MAE has commissioned ten new Australian works, collaborated with ten international musicians and attracted broad recognition through the release of six acclaimed CDs.

At the heart of the ensemble is the articulation of new stylistic hybridity performance outcomes via the testing and development of contemporary techniques relating to ensemble democracy, roles, intent and interaction of members, through the innovation of stylistic input into the commissions, recordings and performances of new Australian works. The Ensemble supports the development of excellence in young Australian musicians, fosters a culture of innovation amongst established Australian musicians and encourages community engagement with the Australian music industry and Australian musicians and composers.

Offered: semester 1 and 2

Entry: By audition in week 1 of semester


Associate Professor Robert Burke

Monash Electronic Music Ensemble (MEME)

Director: Chiara Costanza (

Overview: In our Electronic Music Ensemble, we will be exploring some of the musique concrete compositions by artists like Pierre Henry and Luc Ferrari, as well as contemporary artists like Brian Eno and we will be re-thinking some of their works, re-imagining them. We will be looking at some techniques used in musique concrete and how we can manipulate sounds using these techniques. This will be a collaborative project.

Process: between classes you will be recording your instrumental track to click track if needed and submit prior to the next session. In class we will discuss the submitted recordings, provide feedback, experiment and work on improving the recorded outcome. Our goal is 20 minutes of recorded material, ideally with video footage to create online content!

Audition/Entry: Please submit one max 90seconds video of yourself playing a piece of electronic music, as well as a wav file of the piece in just audio format.

Electronic music is preferred as this will be our focus and the piece will be preferably original, or an arrangement of other material is fine too.

Please also list what gear you have at home. ie. Audio interface, laptop, microphones, speakers, synthesizer, etc., as it will be good to have an idea of what equipment you have available.

Rehearsal Time: Wednesday, 11am – 1pm

Monash New Music Ensemble

The Monash New Music Ensemble (MNME) was founded in 2011 in view of providing a performance group for the School's composers, as well as offering the School’s performers an ensemble that focuses on 20th and 21st Century work. The ensemble is led by conductor and percussionist Timothy Phillips, who is a passionate advocate of Australian music. The ensemble is open to all Monash students. Entry is by audition.

Offered: semester 2

Entry: By audition in week 1 of semester or via appointment by the ensemble director


Johannes Luebbers

Monash Piano Ensemble

Director: Aura Go (

Overview: The Monash Piano Ensemble Online is an exciting opportunity for pianists to come together and develop essential pianistic, collaborative and imaginative skills while working towards a high quality audiovisual recording. Throughout the semester, we will be preparing Elena Kats Chernin’s major work for multiple pianists, “Promenade 60”.

Our work will consist of online tutorials and individual preparation and recording. We will learn how to work with a click track, how to prepare and record our parts methodically and effectively, how to give and receive constructive feedback and how to create a high quality ensemble recording while working remotely with our colleagues.

The Monash Piano Ensemble is right for you if:

  • You have an open mind
  • You love playing the piano
  • You read music well
  • You have a good sense of rhythm

Audition/Entry: Please record and submit a 90-second video of you playing an excerpt from a piece of piano music you love. Please contact ensemble director Aura Go ( with any questions.

Rehearsal Time: Thursday, 9.30am – 11.30am

Monash University Singers Online (MUSO)

Director: Aaron Wyatt (

Overview: The Monash University Singers is the large choir at the school of music. This semester, we’ll be singing some of the masterworks of the choral repertoire, from Mozart to Messiaen, as well as tackling some movements from Deborah Cheetham’s recent work Eumeralla, A War Requiem for Peace. You’ll have the unique opportunity to work with Deborah herself as she coaches you through the pronunciation of the Gunditjmara language, and brings to life the context and history of the work.

In order to piece together our final recordings, we’ll be working to a schedule that will be released at the start of the semester. For each work, you’ll be provided with a conductor video with accompaniment to sing your part along to, as well as reference recordings of the individual parts to get you started. In our sessions, we’ll be able to give you feedback on those recordings to help you hone your process, discuss choral technique and work on issues of sound, help with pronunciation and any problematic sections that you might have identified along the way, and answer any questions that you may have.

Audition Requirements: Please submit a short recording of the first two phrases of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, choosing the part that you feel is most appropriate to your voice type.

Rehearsal Time: Monday, 1pm – 3pm

Monash Wind Symphony

Director: Roman Ponomariov (

Overview: In Semester 2 2020 Monash Wind Symphony will engage in an online project workshopping recording the following works:

  • Matthew Lauridsen - O Magnum Mysterium
  • Dmitri Shostakovich - Festive Overture
  • Cathy Likhuta – new work

Students will be working closely with the ensemble director, Roman Ponomariov and members of the Royal Australian Air Force Band in producing a digital outcome. Participants will engage in online workshops, rehearsals, and masterclasses with Australian/Ukrainian composer Cathy Likhuta and Members of the Royal Australian Air Force Band. Semester 2 will also have an additional focus on audition skills and techniques.

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

Rehearsal Time: Wednesday, 11am – 1pm

Musical Theatre Chorus

The Monash Musical Theatre Chorus, directed by Gerald Marko, performs repertoire from a diverse range of modern and historical musicals. The group mainly comprises second and third year students from the popular voice specialisation, as well as students both from within and external to the School of Music. This ensemble encourages autonomy and builds on techniques and skills developed in first year, with a focus on performance, interpretation, movement and teamwork.

Offered: semester 1 and 2

Entry: No audition – registration in week 1 of semester


Gerald Marko

Pop, Soul and R&B Ensemble

Director: Natalie Carolan (

Overview: Monash's Pop/Soul/R&B ensemble will see students collaborating on a set's worth of pre-existing and/or original songs that fall within these styles. Students will collectively sing, play, arrange, record, mix and master all songs.

Process: Between classes, you will be recording your single instrumental tracks to guide/click tracks and submit them prior to the next session. In class, we will discuss the submitted recordings, provide feedback, experiment and work on improving the recorded outcome. 

Entry/Audition: Please send through a 90 second excerpt of Stevie Wonder's Send Me Your Love or Jill Scott's Golden.

Instrumentalists: you may choose to alter the arrangement (keeping within the confines of the genre).

Singers:Please submit both the main vocal AND up to 2-3 backing vocal lines (could be for entire 90 seconds or just a section)

Rehearsal Time: Tuesday, 1pm – 3pm


Director: Dr Anna McMichael (

Overview: In Sinfonia, we will be working on chamber orchestra works by James Ledger and Caerwen Martin originally created for the ACO. We will be assisted by the Flinders Quartet. They will be tutoring us and also creating an online outcome. There are also plans for a new work featuring percussionist Louise Devenish and chamber orchestra repertoire.

Entry/Audition: Please submit one 90sec video of yourself playing an excerpt from Ross Edwards "Ecstatic Dance"

Rehearsal Time: Friday, 3.15pm – 5.00pm