The Music course at the University of York has something for everyone, and its structure is one of the main reasons I chose York. I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of the way it works and some (but not all) of its best features…
Every year, the first module the first-years undertake is the ‘practical project’. This is usually a large-scale musical or piece of music theatre and it’s run by students in second and third year. I just helped out with this last October (see previous blog post) and it was great fun! Essentially, you get to put on a show within six weeks, and it’s a fantastic way to get to know the other people in your year at a time when you are still working out where your place is in the department.
Unlike many other music courses nationwide, at York you get to choose your modules from the get-go. There are a number of small, compulsory modules such as Harmony and Counterpoint, Writing About Music (a short module that helps with the transition from A Level to university), Aural Skills and Listen to This (a first-year talk delivered by a different lecturer every week on a piece of music they find particularly interesting). However, each term has its own larger in-depth module which can be on any topic, from a study of the life and works of a composer to a chamber music coaching group, from a composition group to conducting studies. You can find a full list of the modules being taught this year here and they change every academic year. The important thing is that if you are more interested in, for example, performing, or perhaps, writing essays, then you can choose the modules which best suit you straight away.
The York Concert Series regularly attracts performers from across the international stage – Mhari Lawson, Adrian Brendel, Jack Liebeck, Benjamin Grosvenor, Diotima Quartet and the Schubert Ensemble, to name but a few recent visitors – in concerts that take place every Wednesday night during term. As a music student you are entitled to free entry to every one of these concerts, a privilege you will probably never again have in the outside world. There’s a huge range of music on offer – just in the last term I saw the University of York Symphony Orchestra perform Mahler’s epic 6th Symphony, the University Chamber Choir and Baroque Ensemble perform Handel’s Israel in Egypt and sang with The 24 choir in a performance of double-settings by earlier and later composers of the same texts. And there were plenteous other concerts that I didn’t manage to get along to!
There are countless departmental ensembles at York, and apart from the choirs and orchestras run by lecturers, even more. Last year, I was involved with the musical theatre showcase group, Vocal Point, the gospel choir, Zamar, the a cappella group, Vox (which I now run), the new music group, Chimera, and I even found time to set up my own eight-hands two-pianos ensemble. What’s more, if you want to be in it but it doesn’t exist yet, then you’re more than welcome to set it up!