Robinson College has a thriving musical life involving a wide range of students, a regular concert series each term, an excellent chapel choir, as well as a variety of orchestral and choral concerts, jazz, musicals, and much more. Recent performances at Robinson have included Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Mozart’s Requiem, Holst 1st Suite for Band, two of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet and a new symphony by a current Robinson student. The Chapel is a beautiful place for performing and listening to music, and contains one of the finest organs in Cambridge (a Frobenius) as well as a superb Steinway piano and Rubio harpsichord. The college also owns a drum kit and (unusually!) a set of steel pan drums. There are practice rooms and a recital room for chamber music, and students reading Music are provided with pianos or electric keyboards in their rooms. The college is also highly unusual in having a fully equipped purpose-built theatre. Finally, Robinson is extremely close to the Music Faculty, which has its advantages!
If you come to Cambridge to read music, the courses that you can take each year are the same whichever college you are in, and all the lectures and end-of-year exams are organised centrally by the Music Faculty. However, most of the actual work you do during the year, based on the Faculty lectures and preparing for the exams, is organised by the Director of Studies at your college. This includes the small-group weekly tutorials (called 'supervisions') in which each student's work is individually discussed, and which can vary in style from one college to another.
While every music student at Cambridge plays or sings to some extent (some to a very high level), the main aim of the course is to complement everyone's enthusiasm for playing and listening to music by learning more about it – historically, analytically, culturally, practically. Although there is an option for students who so wish to include a recital as part of their final exam, the majority of the three years' study is not focused on playing an instrument (or voice) but on encountering different kinds of music, and getting to know it (and to know about it) more deeply. Each year there is a huge range of excellent performers among the students, many of whom organise and take part in an impressive variety of concerts, but all this happens in addition to their studies.
Essential: Music at A Level (occasionally a distinction in Grade 8 theory will be accepted, along with A*AA in 3 other A levels).
Highly Desirable: No other particular subject is required. Students from a science background should continue to practice their essay-writing skills.
Applicants are asked to submit some school coursework in advance of their interview; one or two music history essays and one or two harmony exercises or compositions (whether pastiche or original).
On the day of interview, applicants sit a one-hour test comprising brief exercises in harmony, two-part writing and the opening of an essay. In addition, they are given some brief passages of music and writing to look over while waiting for their interview.
Director(s) of Studies - Dr Jeremy Thurlow
We have two distinguished senior members who contribute to the musical life of the college:
Mr Simon Brown is the Director of Chapel Music and works intensively with the choir throughout the year.
Professor John Rink heads the Faculty’s new Research Centre devoted to the study and practice of musical performance (CMPCP) and often teaches Robinson students in related courses.
Faculty of Music website – Prospective student information
Music (Information from the Cambridge Admissions website)
Updated March 2014