Ensembles and Choirs

Playing music with other people is a great way to improve your musicianship and technical skills, and have fun doing it.

The Community Studies Programme provides a range of opportunities for ensemble playing, catering for different musical styles and levels of playing ability. There are also exciting opportunities to perform, including regular community performance nights.

Northern Rivers Conservatorium - NRYO

Jazz & Blues Improv

Mark Bromley

Wednesday | 5.30 – 6.30pm | Ensemble Room 2

In this ensemble, learn repertoire and improvisation in a blues and jazz idioms. Reading music and understanding chord and scale theory is encouraged. Playing tunes and improvising is the main focus of the ensemble. All instruments and voice are welcome. Beginners to advanced and all ages are welcome.

Youth Jazz Orchestra

Julius Hofstetter

Monday  |   6:30 – 8:00pm  |  Ensemble 1

The Youth Jazz Orchestra was set up in 2010 by Julius Hofstetter. This unique ensemble offers opportunities for north coast youth to play big band music by composers and arrangers such as Sammy Nestico, Duke Ellington and Bob Mintzer. The big band of over 20 musicians and guest vocalists has established itself as a leading ensemble in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. The Students have a lot of fun playing and refining challenging charts. They get to know traditional as well as contemporary big band music in Swing, Latin, Funk and Ballads styles.

Julius is always leading the ensemble to excellence and finds meaningful performance opportunities. The students are gaining professional skills and exposure to Australia’s leading tertiary music educators including Ken Stubbs, John Hoffman and internationally acclaimed musician and composer Paul Grabowksy.

Woodwind Ensemble

Lynne Compton

Wednesday  |  5:00 – 6:00pm  |  Ensemble 1

This group is aimed at woodwind instruments, flutes, clarinets and saxophones, to which is added a small number of acoustic bass instruments such as cello and bass.  There is no age limit and often family members play side by side. Ensemble members need to be able to follow music notation and enjoy playing in a group situation. Music styles ranges from Jazz to Classical repertoire and the focus is on improving instrumental techniques and ensemble skills. Opportunities are provided for performances in order to fine tune these skills. Playing in Elementray Band is excellent preparation for further Ensemble experience including Youth Jazz Orchestra and Northern Rivers Youth Orchestra.

Cello Ensemble

Lynne Compton

Wednesday  |  10:00 – 11:00am  |  Early Childhood Music Room

Lynne Compton welcomes Cellists of all abilities to play together in a social setting.  Repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary, and parts can be arranged to suit your ability (or just above, to scaffold you to the next level!).  Collaborations between Cello Ensemble and other String Ensembles are a regular feature of the Conservatorium concert calendar.

Chamber Strings

Michael McCabe

Wednesday  |  5:30 – 7.00pm  |  Concert Room

Chamber Strings is an open age orchestra for students who are on their instrument fourth grade or above. Students of upper primary to year 12 are required to be currently taking tuition on violin, viola, cello or bass. This ensemble program is designed to be a co-curricular program to the individual lesson. For adults, it is an ideal group for revisiting and honing the skills learned along life’s way. Areas covered in this on-going development program include;

  • technique and musical skills
  • reading skills
  • confidence
  • ensemble skills
  • good posture
  • performance skills

Two key aims of this ensemble are to develop;

  • quality performance and leadership skills within the ensemble to appropriate age and skill levels
  • increased understanding in musical literacy and best musical practise through a broad range of musical styles and genres in an engaging and always positive learning environment

 Junior Strings

Michael McCabe


Designed for lower primary school aged students years 1 – 3 currently learning violin, viola, cello or bass from Beginner to Second grade levels. Young players have the opportunity to develop their skills alongside students of similar age and ability.

This ensemble aims to assist the students in developing

  • technical and musical skills
  • reading skills
  • confidence
  • ensemble skills
  • good posture
  • best performance practise

Junior Strings is the ideal ensemble in conjunct with their private lesson.

Skills learned in this ensemble will prepare members to progress to higher level String Ensembles and in time, the opportunity to join ensembles of other musical genres.

Music Theory

Michael McCabe

Saturday  |  10:00 – 10:00am   |  Ensemble 2

Theory classes follow the AMEB Theory course from beginner to advanced. All abilities are catered to. Excellent preparation for AMEB or HSC exams, or as a supplement to your lessons, or as a stand alone course of study.

Theory of Music undertakes to develop understanding including:

  • the rudiments of music such as notation, pitch, rhythm, signs
  • melody and harmony
  • transposition
  • modulation
  • musical form
  • general knowledge of music history and instruments

The understanding of music theory is a pre-requisite for students undertaking intermediate to advanced instrumental and vocal studies including composition. It is an excellent supplement to HSC where an understanding of harmony may be required.

Youth Choir

Anita Bellman

Tuesday  |  4:00 – 5:00 pm Beginners to Grade 3

Anita Bellman, our Executive Director, runs a choir especially for high school students.

This choir gives young singers and musicians of all abilities the opportunity to sing in harmony, work on vocal technique, develop aural and sight singing skills in a supportive, challenging and fun environment.

The voice is the first instrument and developing skills that make you a great singer of harmony also lift your overall skills as a musician.  So if your teenager plays guitar, piano, bass, drums, woodwind, brass or anything other instrument they will definitely benefit from this choir.


Vox Caldera

Nicholas Routley

Tuesday  |  6.50pm – 9.15pm | Auditioned  |  Concert Room

Formed in 2012, Vox Caldera (“the voice of the cauldron”) is a chamber choir of 21 singers specialising in the unaccompanied Classical repertoire. The choir’s founding and current musical director is Nicholas Routley, formerly musical director of the Sydney Chamber Choir.

The choir’s repertoire currently runs from the music of Adam de la Halle in the 14th century to Benjamin Britten in the 20th, encompassing Josquin des Prez, Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart, Bruckner, and Debussy among others. It has performed at the Bangalow and Tyalgum Festivals.

It is an auditioned choir suitable for experienced readers of music.



Junior Drama Classes

Tameika Watts

Wednesday | 4.00 – 5.30pm | Early Childhood Music Room

Wednesay night drama classes in 2017 will be open to students interested in developing their skills as performers and devisers, both as actor and as physical performers.


Senior Drama Classes

Tameika Watts


Express your interest in a high school aged drama class. Classes are for students interested in developing their skills as performers and devisers, both as actor and as physical performers.

World Music Ensemble

Mark Bromley

Wednesday | 4.30 – 5.30pm | Ensemble Room 2

The world Music Ensemble is an eclectic mix of musicians that get together for one hour a week to play music from around the globe. Arrangements are created for the ability of the ensemble members.

Reading music, while not essential, helps. Improvisation and ensemble arrangement/orchestration is encouraged. All instruments and voice are welcome. Performance experience is also a focus as the ensemble performs in the local community whenever it can.

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