Hertford College Music Society


Here you can find information about all of our ensembles, rehearsals, and upcoming concerts, as well as information on how to get involved with everything.

For more information on anything take a look at our constitution and our members' handbook, or just send an email to contact@hertfordmusic.org


About us

Who we are

Hertford College Music Society is the largest and most active college music society at the University of Oxford, with a reputation for being dynamic, inclusive and friendly.

Boasting four ensembles, we’ve something for everyone, whether you’re interested in joining the Orchestra, Wind Band, Jazz Band or Choir, or would like to perform in one of our lunchtime recitals. Our ensembles are open to members of all colleges and are non-auditioning, so anyone is welcome to come along and try.

A little bit of history

The society was reformed in 1972 by Peter Dart, at which time it consisted only of the Choir and the Orchestra, then led by a young Simon Rattle. Recently the society has grown substantially with the formation of the Wind Band by Tom Sears in 2011 and the Jazz Band by a group of students in 2012. Our patron is Sir Nicholas Jackson.

The committee

What do we do?

Ensemble performances

  • Termly HCMS concert: In eighth week of each term we host a roughly two-hour concert involving performances from our Orchestra, Jazz Band, and Wind Band
  • Carols in the Quad: Near the end of Michaelmas term each year the Wind Band perform classic carols in the Old Quad in Hertford, and the rest of HCMS helps to sell mince pies and mulled wine to raise money for a local charity
  • Jazz and Cocktails: A couple of times a year the Jazz Band will book out a room in Hertford and transform it into a prohibition-era dance hall while the rest of HCMS provide partygoers with themed cocktails

Lunchtime recitals

  • What are they? Lunchtime recitals are pretty much what it says on the tin: weekly half-hour recitals by various musicians from around the University, as well as from further afield
  • When and where are they? Wednesdays at 1:10pm in Hertford College Chapel
  • Can I get involved? Anybody can do a lunchtime recital! If you fancy doing one, or would just like some more information, email president@hertfordmusic.org


  • Dinners: Most terms we will organise a formal dinner in the hall at Hertford College, though there is almost invariably an element of fancy dress involved, so it is far from an overly formal event!
  • After rehearsals: Usually after a rehearsal the conductor will guide anybody who is interested towards the college bar for a relaxing drink and some chat, where you can often find other HCMS members doing exactly the same thing

Other things

  • Instrument hire: Thanks to the generosity of Hertford alumnus and violin maker Christopher Martyn, HCMS has two violins and several high-quality bows available for loan to members for periods of up to a term, renewable by mutual agreement. Please contact Claire Vallance (claire.vallance@hertford.ox.ac.uk) if you are interested in using one of these instruments.



Fridays, 5:30–7pm, Sundays 4–5:30pm (then Evensong at 5:45pm)

Regarded as one of the top non-auditioning chapel choirs in Oxford, Hertford College Chapel Choir continues the great tradition of British choral singing, under the direction of two committed organ scholars. Repertoire is broadly British, though by no means exclusively, and spans from the Renaissance greats to brand new commissions. The choir tours every summer and winter to destinations such as Leipzig, Barcelona, Dublin, and Japan. Other recent highlights include performances of Mozart’s Requiem and Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil.

Subscribe yourself to the Choir mailing list here.


Mondays, 7–9pm, Baring Room

Hertford College Orchestra is the oldest ensemble at the college and is the best college orchestra in the university, regularly performing challenging music despite being non-auditioining. A young Simon Rattle, who is now the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted the first two concerts; today’s conductors have big shoes to fill! The orchestra plays music by composers from across the orchestral canon, recently including music by Vaughan Williams, Grieg, Nielsen, and Ginastera.

Subscribe yourself to the Orchestra mailing list here.

Wind Band

Wednesdays, 7:30–9:30pm, Baring Room

Hertford's wind band is the second biggest in the university, and the best non-auditioning ensemble in this genre. The band was founded in 2011 by then Hertford physics undergraduate Tom Sears and has since gone from strength to strength, increasing in size each year. Their repertoire is widely varied, including Bill Whelan's 'Riverdance', countless medlies from the musicals and modern classics by renowned wind orchestra composers such as Phillip Sparke and Nigel Hess. The band plays in the Society's termly concerts, and also puts on a 'Carols in the Quad' event each Christmas to raise money for local charities.

Subscribe yourself to the Wind Band mailing list here.

Jazz Band

Thursdays, 7:30–9pm, Baring Room

Hertford College Jazz Band is a flexible ensemble which performs a range musical styles - from 1940's big band to our own takes on Jazz Standards. In addition to the end of term concert with the Wind Band and Orchestra, we often do gigs down the bar, and play for termly 'Jazz and Cocktails' college events which are always good fun. Freshers' week is busy for us too, playing for two of the new students' drinks evenings.

Subscribe yourself to the Jazz Band mailing list here.


Bruckner Orchestra

The Hertford Bruckner Orchestra is affiliated with HCMS and conducted by Dr Paul Coones, giving concerts in the University Church at the end of each Hilary Term. It specialises in late romantic repertoire, with particular reference to the works of Anton Bruckner. HBO comprises selected players from the Hertford Orchestra and invited instrumentalists from the University, City, and beyond. Prospective players are warmly encouraged to contact Dr. Coones, particularly string players. The ethos of HBO combines a high standard of organisation and a clear musical focus, but also a friendly, constructive ambience and an absence of pomposity.