The Instrumental Awards for Chamber Music Scheme (IAS) enables students to participate in high-quality chamber music at the University. It is an intercollegiate scheme open to undergraduates and graduates at all Colleges.

Award holders comprise outstanding chamber musicians from across the University, and many follow in the footsteps of their predecessors to pursue professional careers as performers.

You apply to the scheme from 1 September and audition for places at the beginning of each academic year. The first round of solo repertoire is followed by a round of chamber music, before successful applicants are placed in groups. You can also be considered for a place in the flagship Cambridge University Orchestra through the same audition procedure.

From piano duos to string quartets and brass dectets, IAS ensembles play together over the course of a year (and often for the whole of award holders’ time at Cambridge), and their members are encouraged to develop long-term performing relationships together as chamber musicians.

Ensembles are coached regularly by leading specialist chamber musicians, including Margaret Faultless, Martin Outram, John Myerscough (and other members of the Doric Quartet), Melanie Ragge and Andrew West. Award holders have also received coaching from the Amatis Trio and have participated in masterclasses with the Emerson Quartet and composer Nico Muhly.

Award holders also receive financial assistance of up to £140 towards individual instrumental lessons plus an award of £100 from their college.

Regular performances enable students to develop musically as individuals and as chamber groups. The scheme provides opportunities for performances throughout the year, with selected groups chosen to perform in showcase concerts and special projects.

The Instrumental Awards Scheme is an intercollegiate scheme administered by the Centre for Music Performance.

Any questions?

Please make sure you read all the information on this page. If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at info@cmp.cam.ac.uk.

What does being an award holder involve, and how much time is required?

As an award holder you will be placed in an ensemble who you will work with for the rest of the year. Together with your ensemble, you will need to:

  • Arrange to meet two or three times a week (4–6 hours per week) during termtime to work on repertoire and improve your ensemble playing. We suggest you set up a regular time slot to rehearse together.
  • Attend six coaching sessions per year with guest professionals.
  • Give regular performances. You will need to arrange your own concerts (at least one in the first term and two in the second term) and may also be invited to perform in the showcase concerts and special projects.

We hope that as an Award Holder you will also play an active role in music-making within your college and across the University.

Students from all subjects can take part in the IAS, but it is worth considering how many hours a week you are willing and able to devote to your playing, and how a commitment to your chamber group will fit around your academic studies. Life at Cambridge is very busy (but rewarding!), and you do need to be organised in order to balance academic and IAS commitments.

Who can apply?

The IAS is open to both new and current students at all colleges, and you can apply in any or all years during your time at Cambridge.

What standard do I need to be?

You should have achieved at least Distinction at Grade VIII of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), or other equivalent qualification, to apply for the scheme. Successful candidates are usually of Associated Board Diploma standard or equivalent.

What instruments are eligible?

Players of the following instruments are eligible to apply:

Brass Keyboard Strings Wind
French horn*
Trombone
Trumpet
Tuba
Piano Cello
Double bass**
Guitar**
Harp**
Viola
Violin
Bassoon
Clarinet
Flute
Oboe

*French horn players will be considered for both wind and brass ensembles.
**Awards for these instruments are dependent on instrumental combinations in any given year. The managers reserve the right to offer associate membership. Associate members participate in one project and holders are entitled to half the benefits of a full award.

Applying on a historic instrument

The scheme also considers applications from period instrument players. If you are considering applying on a historical instrument, please contact info@cmp.cam.ac.uk at the earliest opportunity in advance of submitting your application.

How do I apply?

You need to complete an application form. Having received your application, we will invite you to audition.

Applications for 2024–25 open at 9am on 1 September and close at 9am on 22 September.

What if I want to apply for IAS and the orchestras?

If you want to apply to IAS only:

  • fill in the IAS application form by 22 September
  • you will be invited to a solo audition with professional auditioners (IAS Solo Round), and need to perform the set IAS solo repertoire
  • if you are successful at your solo audition, you will be invited for a group audition (IAS Chamber Round), and need to perform the set IAS chamber repertoire

If you want to apply to orchestra only:

  • fill in the orchestra application form by 5 October
  • you will be invited to a solo audition with student auditioners (Orchestra Round 1), and need to perform a piece of your own choice
  • if you are successful, you will be invited to a further solo audition with professional auditioners (Orchestra Round 2), where you need to perform:
    • a piece of your own choice
    • orchestral excerpts

If you want to apply to IAS and orchestra:

  • fill in the IAS application form by 22 September and make sure you tick the ‘orchestra’ box
  • you will be invited to a solo audition with professional auditioners (IAS Solo Round / Orchestra Round 2), and need to perform:
    • the set IAS solo repertoire
    • the orchestral excerpts
  • if you are successful at your solo audition, you will be invited for a group audition (IAS Chamber Round), and need to perform the set IAS chamber repertoire

What happens at the audition?

Full details of the dates and format of the auditions will be announced here on 1 April 2024.

Set repertoire 2024–25

The set repertoire for 2024-25 will be announced on 1 April 2024.

Award Managers

The Instrumental Awards Scheme is an intercollegiate scheme administered by the Centre for Music Performance. The scheme is directed by a committee drawn from across the colleges and University.

Role Name University/College Position(s)
Director Dr David Trippett Professor of Music and Director of Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Music
Director of Studies in Music, Christ’s College
Artistic Director Professor Margaret Faultless Director of Performance, Faculty of Music
Director of Performance, Centre for Music Performance
Musician in Residence, St John’s College
Treasurer Dr Paul Wingfield Director of Studies in Music, Trinity College
Manager Dr Sam Barrett Professor of Early Medieval Music, Faculty of Music
Director of Studies in Music, Pembroke College
Manager Dr Martin Ennis Associate Professor in Music, Faculty of Music
Director of Studies in Music and Director of Music, Girton College
Manager Christopher Lawrence Bursar, Newnham College
CMP Representative Chloe Davidson Manager, Centre for Music Performance