King’s College London is home to a wide variety and exciting array of musical societies, with many events all year round. Here is an overview of some of the main ones that are worth checking out.
Modern Music Society
For those interested in music from the 20th century or beyond, Modern Music Society is highly recommended. The MMS Sinfonietta Orchestra recently performed in the sublime grandeur of the King’s College Chapel, with a program of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings, and Florence Price’s Concert Overture No.2. Another highlight is the series of weekly piano workshops, where presentations and discussions of a wide range of topics take place, from Neoclassicism to Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier reconsidered. The workshops also offer a friendly environment where you can discuss ideas and present a piece you’re working on with like-minded pianists. There is also a weekly Socratic club, which discusses music and how it relates to current issues and news topics. Lesser known, historically discriminated and otherwise ‘forgotten’ composers are explored, and music rarely played in Symphony Orchestras are performed with the Sinfonietta, various string quartets and chamber groups within MMS. Lunchtime recitals are common and offer a relaxed opportunity to perform repertoire.
KCL Symphony Orchestra
The KCL Symphony Orchestra is emerging as one of London’s finest student-led symphony orchestras. They perform two to three concerts every season, typically culminating in an annual summer tour (with an upcoming tour to Prague in June 2022!). Past tour destinations include Spain, Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg. Although mainly composed of students from King’s College London, the orchestra also attracts many students from conservatoires across London. As well as providing valuable and varied orchestral experience, KCLSO holds an annual concerto competition, which provides the opportunity for talented players to showcase their bravura alongside the orchestra. The orchestra also provides exciting opportunities for budding composers and assistant conductors, and recently performed in four sold-out concerts, featuring a program including Coleridge Taylor’s ‘The Bamboula’, Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A Minor, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, and Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
The Rolling Tones
The Rolling Tones are a competitive, award-winning A Cappella group. Founded in 2007, they currently have 13 members, and are 2-time National Champions and double CARA award winners. The Tones are known for powerful vocal blends and original arrangements, as well as their soloists taking Outstanding Soloist awards at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), the UK final in 2018 and Open A Capella Competition 2020. In recent years, The Rolling Tones have performed for the royal family of Bahrain in 2018 and toured the West Coast of the US. Currently, they are working for ICCAs 2022 and their Edinburgh Fringe show in August.
Jazz Society and Big Band
The Jazz Society hosts a wide range of gigs and concerts throughout the year, from frequent all-night jam sessions at student bars, to more formal functions. There is a wide host of groups, including the reputable Big Band, which recently performed swing charts from the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, as well as Bebop, Cool Jazz, Funk and Pop numbers to a packed Guy’s Bar. There are also a range of gigs and showcasing opportunities for newly formed or well-established small bands. ‘Fleet Street Beats’, Jazz Society’s popular function band, regularly performs a range of charts from ABBA to ELO and the Killers, to the popularity of packed open mic nights.
More about past and upcoming Jazz Society events can be found here (or on their socials): https://www.kingsbigband.com/blog
The King’s College Brass band welcomes all brass and percussion players and participates in a variety of functions and competitions throughout the year. During the second and third national lockdowns, KCLBB competed in the Kapitol Cory Online Brass Band Championships where they won 3rd Place overall in the university section, as well as best ‘Shield’ section band, most entertaining programme, best ‘regional theme’, and best percussion.
King’s College Chorus
The King’s College Chorus (KCC) is a large, non-auditioning chorus which hails students from all departments and campuses. Its friendly rehearsals cater to all abilities, so whether you wish to try your hand at singing as a beginner, or you wish to explore opportunities for solos as a more experienced singer – there is something for everyone. It explores a variety of genres, whether its large symphonic works, folk spirituals, or A Capella arrangements. The KCC recently gave a Christmas concert in the King’s College Chapel, the recording of which can be viewed from their website: https://www.kclchorus.com/home
The Opera Society stages several performances of an opera production every term and aims to promote opera to a wide audience both within KCL and across London. Even if you’re not a keen operatic singer, the society offers exciting opportunities in opera production, stage design and artistic direction, not to mention the musical opportunities in playing with the pit band. The opera society often attracts actors and musicians from not only King’s, but other institutions around London. The Opera society frequently holds recitals and masterclasses from industry professionals, and a highlight are the many free opportunities to attend dress rehearsals or showings of operas around London. The opera society recently performed Die Fledermaus at the Greenwood Theatre and is preparing to stage Britten’s ‘The Turn of the Screw’ in 2022.
King’s Musical Theatre
King’s Musical Theatre (KMT) is a must join for the theatricals and music enthusiasts alike. They stage two large scale productions every year, recently performing the Sondheim classic ‘Company’ at the Greenwood Theatre. The society offers many roles within their productions – each working like a cog in a well-oiled machine, from showstopping main roles, to chorus members, to behind-the-scenes roles. The society annually participates in a 24-hour musical challenge to raise money for charity – where they must stage, rehearse, and perform a musical within 24 hours!
GKT Music Society and Musical Theatre Society
Although founded by students in the Guy’s, King’s and St. Thomas’ medical campuses, the GKT Music Society features a collection of musical groups open to alumni from all courses and campuses. It hosts KCL’s only non-auditioning orchestra and choir, as well as KCL’s mixed A Cappella group, ‘Kadence’. The society also offers opportunities for students to form their own music groups and hosts regular concerts and socials throughout each semester, sometimes in collaboration with other universities around London. The GKT Musical Theatre society puts on a show each year, alongside many smaller theatrical workshops and excursions. Previous productions include West Side Story, Fame and Footloose, and High School Musical is their next production staging in 2022.
More information can be found on the GKT Music Society website: https://gktmusicsociety.wordpress.com/
And that concludes my whistle-stop overview of the many Music making opportunities at King’s! It is worth mentioning that there are other smaller societies, and that it is easy to form your own music society if you wish! You can find out more about music societies via the KCLSU website.
For more information about studying Music at King’s: