Make music with your peers as you extend your skills and knowledge.

Jazz ensemble rehearsing
"Ensemble music making in orchestras, bands and choirs has been a vital part of music-making at the Elder Conservatorium for many years - it is central to our role as music educators and as musicians."Professor Graeme Koehne


Our ensembles

  • Elder Conservatorium Percussion Ensemble

    Elder Conservatorium Percussion Ensemble

    Director: Amanda Grigg

    The Elder Conservatorium Percussion Ensemble rehearses weekly and performs regularly throughout the semester. All percussion students are keen members, however other students are welcome to audition at the beginning of the year.

    As a participant of percussion ensemble, you will;

    • Have access to an extensive percussion studio and rehearse in a supportive and creative environment. 
    • Gain a comprehensive knowledge of percussion ensembles, their history and repertoire.
    • Play a variety of instruments from standard orchestral percussion through to world music. 
    • Enhance your musicianship though individually focused instruction and coaching.
    • Contribute artistically though performances, workshops, and sessions with visiting artists.
  • Elder Conservatorium Brass Ensemble

    Elder Conservatorium Brass Ensemble

    Director: Howard Parkinson

    The Elder Conservatorium Brass Ensemble is where brass students are exposed to the large repertoire that has been composed and arranged specifically for orchestral brass. The repertoire and style of playing differs greatly from the traditional brass band.

    In the Brass Ensemble setting we are very focused on the sound, articulation and style of playing that will directly relate to orchestral playing.

    The ability to listen and blend sound, to play with beautiful sound and perfect intonation, and to play consistently at a professional level is our aim.  

  • Big Band

    Big Band

    Director: Dusty Cox

    The Elder Conservatorium Big Band was formed by the original Head of Jazz, Hal Hall in the late 1970’s. Under the direction of current leader Dusty Cox the Big Band received the 2009 ‘Outstanding College Performance’ award in DownBeat’s ‘32nd Annual Student Music Awards’, the first Australian University ensemble to receive this prestigious award.   

    The ensemble has worked with jazz giants, including Bob Mintzer, Lee Konitz, Wycliffe Gordon, Errol Buddle, Don Burrows, Michelle Nicolle, Ray Vega our own Lauren Henderson and Julian Ferraretto and many others. It has appeared at the Manly Jazz Festival three times; in 1995 it featured at the Montsalvat Jazz Festival, and in 2002 performed at the prestigious Wangaratta Jazz Festival.

    The Big Band has also toured extensively throughout South Australia and in 1994 it produced a CD, Live at the Walker’s Arms and completed a further studio recording in 2008. The Open Music Academy at the Elder Conservatorium includes the Big Band in their many educational tours around South Australia in their outreach programs.  

    The band showcases a broad range of material from the traditions of Basie and Ellington to contemporary music from Maria Schneider, Michael Mossman and Head of Jazz Mark Ferguson.  

    Many alumni have gone on to very successful international careers as performers, composer/arrangers and educators. Leading artists such as Thomas Voss, Andrew Crago, Alex Flood, Ben Harrison and Adam Page spent their formative years in the band. 

  • Elder Conservatorium Wind Orchestra

    Elder Conservatorium Wind Orchestra

    Director: Bryan Griffiths

    The Elder Conservatorium Wind Orchestra (ECWO) is widely recognised for its pioneering role in and ongoing contribution to the Australian wind orchestra movement. Forming an integral part of the professional performance training and teacher education at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, the ensemble is comprised primarily of music-majors but welcomes talented and dedicated students from the wider University cohort.  

    Under the directorship of the late Robert 'Bob' Hower (1953-2019)—a graduate of the Eastman School of Music—the ensemble received numerous invitations to perform in concerts and festivals locally, interstate and abroad, including the Australian National Band Championships where it was regularly awarded winner of the Open A Grade Concert Band division. In 1996, ECWO and Hower recorded composer David Stanhope’s then complete works for wind orchestra for the album Little Ripper!. 

    ECWO has collaborated with a number of distinguished partners for the benefit of its students, most notably in the 2003 and 2010 residencies by British conductor Timothy Reynish, a world authority on wind orchestra performance and repertoire. In recent years, the ensemble has regularly partnered with the Band of the South Australian Police in concert, providing members with specialist professional mentoring and experience. Many ECWO alumni go on to distinguished careers in both Australian and overseas orchestras, defence and service bands.  

  • Latin Ensemble

     Latin Ensemble

    Director: Mark Ferguson 

    The Latin Ensemble was formed by current Head of Jazz Mark Simeon Ferguson in 2009. The band focusses on Afro-Cuban styles such Son, Mambo, Cha-cha, and guaracha but also explores some Brazilian, West African and Jazz Funk styles. The group features a semi-standard Big Band instrumentation plus three-to-five percussionists.  

    The Latin Ensemble have performed with internationally acclaimed latin and latin jazz artists including Elio Villfranca (Cuba/NYC), Ray Vega (NYC), Lazaro Numa (Cuba) and Fabian Hevia (Chile/Sydney). The have toured regional South Australia and perform regularly for latin dance nights and featured in the Royal Adelaide Show.  

    The group’s repertoire features works by Eddie Palmieri, Chucho Valdez, Tito Rodriguez and Tito Puente alongside works by the director. Students are also encouraged to write for the group and many students in the Jazz Arranging class write their major work for the Latin Ensemble. 

    The ensemble spends a small portion of each rehearsal working through pages of rhythmic exercises designed to develop reading skills and to enhance student connection to the ‘groove’.  

    Many ensemble alumni now work professionally as latin percussionists and focus heavily on congas.  

  • The Adelaide Connection

    The Adelaide Connection

    Director: Dr Julian Ferraretto  

    The Elder Conservatorium's premier jazz choir The Adelaide Connection was arguably the very first jazz choir Australia! The group was formed in 1981 by John McKenzie and is currently directed by award-winning composer and jazz violinist, Dr Julian Ferraretto, himself a member of the choir when iconic jazz educator Connaitre Miller was at the helm.  

    The ensemble has played a formative role in the careers of some of the most outstanding Australian jazz vocalists including Jo Lawry, Lauren Henderson, Naomi Crellin and Luke Thompson (of the Idea of North), Libby O’Donovan and Anita Wardell.  

    The Adelaide Connection have released four albums, including Nice ‘n’ Easy which was an ARIA nominee for Best Jazz Album and featured Australian jazz legend Don Burrows (AOM) and his Quintet. They have performed at the International Association of Jazz Educator Convention in New York City, the Manly Jazz Festival, the Pacific Basin Choral Convention in Honolulu and have toured regularly nationally and internationally. Recently they have had a number of collaborations with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, performing at the inaugural Festival of Orchestra in 2021.  

    With a focus on harmonically sophisticated vocal music, both a cappella and accompanied, the ensemble is an excellent developmental tool in strengthening the students' knowledge of jazz history, sight reading and stylistic interpretation with repertoire spanning early jazz choral arrangers such as Gene Puerling to current arrangers such as Darmon Meader and Kerry Marsh. 

  • Reading and Rhythm Ensemble

    Reading and Rhythm Ensemble

    Director: Dr Lyndon Gray

    Reading and Rhythm ensemble currently directed by Dr Lyndon Gray is a course designed to target the demands of being a rhythm section instrumentalists and generally improve reading, tempo control, style awareness and other skills required of a professional musician. The course also explores rhythm in many forms including polyrhythms, different time signatures and performing styles at different tempos. 

    The students are given a one hour masterclass-style presentation each week by Gray and drum lecturer Stephen Neville where an aspect of rhythm is discussed in depth. The students are involved in demonstrating these ideas and are encouraged to work on the discussed topics in their allocated groups. The students are then split into smaller ensembles where they work on pieces which present a wide variety of rhythmic and stylistic challenges.  

    In addition to this the students are also assigned South Indian phonetic exercises as assessment tasks throughout the year. These Solkattu exercises develop polyrhythmic phrasing which is translated into the students’ improvisational vocabulary and also exposes them to a new approach to learning and processing rhythm. 

  • Small Jazz Ensembles

    Jazz small ensemble performing
    • Small ensembles are held in our teaching and practice rooms in the Madley building which all have small PA systems and pianos. Drummers need to bring their own drum kits. Most rooms have bass amps but we encourage bass players and guitarists to bring their own amps so they can work on developing their ‘sound’
    • Our jazz vocal lecturer Lauren Henderson once described the small ensemble as ‘a family’ — with all the ups and downs that implies. Lifelong friendships regularly form in these groups, and skills in dealing with differing opinions while working towards common goals are an important outcome of this class.
    • The small ensembles focus on tunes list repertoire but students are welcome to bring in other repertoire in consultation with the ensemble lecturer.
    • The group has one hour of instruction with a lecturer per week as part of a scheduled two-hour session — the students direct themselves for the second hour
    Jazz saxophonist rehearsing with small ensemble
    • The group also organise another self-directed small ensemble rehearsal each week which they co-ordinate through the music office, helping the students to develop valuable organisational skills.
    • Each small ensemble performs twice every semester in our weekly Jazz Forum, which is held on Thursdays, 2-4pm in the Madley Rehearsal Space.
    • Staff provide verbal feedback in jazz forum but the focus is on students performing to each other, communicating through the music. Students and staff continue to give informal feedback in the days following each performance.
    • Other opportunities arise throughout the semester for groups to perform
    • Students will develop ensemble skills in this class: how to listen and respond to their ensemble peers in real time
    • Students will put into practice the lessons they are learning in Jazz Musicianship, and learn to work as a team.
    • The ensembles regularly change in semester 2 so that students get the opportunity to work with different musicians, just like they do in the ‘real world’.
  • Elder Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra

    Jazz small ensemble performing

    Director: Dr Elizabeth Layton

    Founded in 1973 by the late Jiri Tancibudek, the Elder Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra draws on advanced students from the conservatorium. In its first either years, the orchestra studied and performed over sixty works including full-scale operas such as Mozart's Idomeneo and Cosi fan Tutte, and concert works by Haydn, Schubert, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Bartok and many others. In 1998 the orchestra was reformed by William Hennessy, the founding leader of the Australian String Quartet and since then has performed regularly in lunchhour and evening concerts.

    The chamber orchestra provides students with the opportunity to hone their ensemble skills in an orchestral setting and to work on the vast repertoire available to such an ensemble. In addition, by working with the chamber orchestra, students have the opportunity to study many of the stylistic techniques which they will encounter in their professional lives.

  • Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra

    Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra

    Director: Dr Luke Dollman

    The Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra (ECSO) is central to the work of the Elder Conservatorium and the training of its young musicians. The orchestra consists mainly of full-time students from the Conservatorium's music programs but also includes students from other faculties within the University. Our orchestral program aims to provide students with the ensemble expertise necessary for a successful performing career at the highest level and was recently awarded a Silver Medal at the World Orchestra Festival held in Vienna.

    Dr Luke Dollman is the current Music Director of the orchestra, while guest conductors in recent years have included Nicholas Braithwaite, James Lowe and Graham Abbott. The orchestra performs a wide variety of traditional orchestral repertoire and regularly performs new works by Elder Conservatorium students and staff. The orchestra also provides a platform for our most promising students to perform concertos in our prestigious Elder Hall Lunchtime Series. Regular auditions are held in February as part of Orientation Week, however we welcome enquiries from musicians interested in playing throughout the year.

  • Elder Music Lab

     Elder Music Lab

    Director: Dr Luke Dollman

    Elder Music Lab is the Elder Conservatorium of Music’s new music ensemble, providing a spearhead for the Conservatorium’s activities in the area of contemporary music, with a particular focus on generating and performing new works, and innovative performance practices in general.

    Since its formation in 2017 the ensemble, directed by Luke Dollman, has given many performances at the University of Adelaide and has been a regular guest at COMA’s series at the Wheatsheaf Hotel.

    Particular highlights have been composer focusses on Peter Maxwell Davies and Pierre Boulez, 18 world premieres and collaborations with various musicians from other genres.

    Recent highlights include performing live online together with our colleagues from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore, and performing at the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s She Speaks festival celebrating female composers. 

  • Elder Conservatorium Chorale

    Elder Conservatorium Chorale

    Director: Dr Carl Crossin OAM

    The Choral Program at the Elder Conservatorium of Music is based on the fundamental principle that ensemble work is an essential part of any musician's education. 

    Choral music is one of the most universal of musical genres. It is an art form that possesses a diversity like no other and, at any level (from amateur to professional) choral singing involves artistic expression using the most natural and elemental of all instruments - the human voice. 

    The Elder Conservatorium Chorale is a vibrant mixed-voice auditioned choir which draws its membership from the Elder Conservatorium of Music, the University of Adelaide at large, other universities, and from the wider community. 

    The Chorale has been a vital and essential part of choral music-making in Adelaide for over twenty years.  It has performed a wide variety of choral music, both unaccompanied and with orchestra, and ranging in style from Renaissance motets and Baroque oratorios; to gospel spirituals and innovative contemporary works.  Chorale has also sung some of the greatest works of the choral /orchestral repertoire (many with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra), including: Requiems by Mozart, Verdi, Brahms, Duruflé and Fauré; choral symphonies by Beethoven, Mahler and Vaughan Williams; oratorios by Handel (including Messiah) and both the St. John and St, Matthew Passion settings by Bach. 

    The Chorale is a regular collaborator with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and has also taken part in such diverse performances as Adelaide Festival concerts, several ‘live’ film scores (Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, Dr. Who and The Films of Tim Burton) and ‘Last Night of the Proms concerts.