Student music associations
From chamber choir to big band, and large orchestra to close harmony: Utrecht can boast the widest range of student music associations in the Netherlands, each at the top of their respective genre. Utrecht’s is the only Dutch university to be connected to eight student music associations performing on some of the highest, and often international, levels. All eight of them will be climbing the different stages of TivoliVredenburg and presenting a unique collaborative project with some of the Netherlands’ biggest names in music.
All of the music societies represented are based at Parnassos, Utrecht University’s cultural centre. Parnassos offers over 120 courses in the areas of visual arts, dance, music, writing, photography and theatre. Looking for a fun night out? Parnassos has its own theatre, and puts on monthly standup open-mic nights with up-and-coming jokesmiths as well as a number of theatre productions throughout the year. Our bar offers live music and free dance workshops every month. Let yourself be inspired during UUnited Music Festival and get your groove on at Parnassos!
Het Utrechts Studenten Koor en Orkest
Utrechts Studenten Koor en Orkest (Utrecht Student Choir and Orchestra) is one of the biggest student music associations in the Netherlands. USKO is a large ensemble made up of students from Utrecht University and Hogeschool Utrecht in a mix of experienced and less experienced musicians and featuring vocals, strings, winds, brass and percussion. USKO prepares three musical programmes a year, traditionally including one of the great works of Bach: either the St Matthew Passion, St John Passion or the Hohe Messe. Since 2021, the musical direction of USKO is in the hands of Stijn Berkouwer.
Utrechtse Studenten Bigband
The Utrechtse Studenten Bigband is the student big band of the Netherlands. With their dazzling green ties these swinging students make every occasion a party to remember. USBB loves to experiment with different musical styles: from jazz, soul and funk to Latin and world music. The band is a regular performer at festivals, parties and balls, but also organises big concerts featuring such inspiring guest performers as Eric Vloeimans, Benjamin Herman, Shirma Rouse and Wouter Hamel.
De Utrechtse Studenten Cantorij
Utrechtse Studenten Cantorij has been the Utrecht University chamber choir since 1964, combining passion and enthusiasm with ambition and quality. Conductor Fokko Oldenhuis and its 36 singers make a close and skilled choir. For over 50 years, USCantorij has been synonymous with a varied programming. Its music is colourful and diverse and includes classical pieces from all styles and time periods, from the Renaissance to composers of the present day, who regularly compose pieces specially for USCantorij. USCantorij puts on three programmes a year, each with its own theme. The choir sings both a cappella and with accompaniment by professional musicians.
Utrechtsch Studenten Concert
Utrechtsch Studenten Concert (Utrecht Student Concert) was founded in Utrecht in 1823, making it at 198 years the oldest symphony orchestra in the Netherlands! The orchestra selects its members through auditions, ensuring it can keep playing at a high level. USConcert regularly performs at some of the Netherlands’ biggest venues, with Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg providing its home base. Traditionally USConcert mostly performs works from the late and early Romantic period, but the orchestra doesn’t shy away from a big opera like Das Rheingold or a pop concert with the band Hanson!
Dekoor Close Harmony
Dekoor is more than a choir. It’s a collective of thirty-five young musicians sharing a passion for close harmony. They combine their talents to bring to the stage a unique sound. Whether it’s a subdued pop ballad or swinging jazz, spirited gospel or a classical sojourn; Dekoor doesn’t back away from a challenge and strives to venture off the beaten track of choir singing. The group’s unstoppable driving force is its musical director Christoph Mac-Carty. Dekoor has been one of the world’s leading choirs for years, and it never stops moving. Young, driven, sexy, musical, self-assured and sincere. Prepare to be moved and blown away.
Kunstorkest is the only student Baroque orchestra in the Netherlands and was founded in 1982. With its intimate group of students the orchestra performs both known classics and obscure gems, mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. The musicians play present-day instruments, but strive towards a performance that is as authentic as possible. The orchestra is under the leadership of Baroque violinist Hans Lub. As tradition dictates, he is not the orchestra’s conductor, but rather its concertmaster.
Medusa Student Women’s Choir is an enthusiastic ensemble of 25 musical female students. Being its only all-female choir makes Medusa unique among the other Utrecht student music associations. The choir was founded in 1984. Since 2015, it is under the leadership of conductor Iris van ‘t Veer, herself a Medusa graduate. Medusa sings a varied repertoire, consisting of light classical, contemporary classical and cinematic music, musical songs and folk songs. Every year, the Muses put on a winter and summer concert. Part of the concerts are a capella, but Medusa also regularly collaborates with professional musicians, ranging from one pianist to a string ensemble complete with solo vocalists. During the lockdown, Medusa has released a concert album on Spotify titled ‘Veer kracht’ (a play on the Dutch word for ‘resilience’).
Huisorkest is a socially oriented student orchestra from Utrecht. Musicians are encouraged to put forward their own favourite music, leading to a wide range of musical styles. Often its productions are a blend of classical and cinematic pieces, jazz, pop and rock. In almost all its productions, Huisorkest looks for possible crossovers with other artforms, working with for example a narrator, a dance act, a painter or a soloist. This way they hope to bring different artforms closer together. Together with its conductor Anja Oosterbeek, its strings, woodwinds and brass, percussion, base guitar and piano, Huisorkest creates two scintillating productions a year.
To celebrate this special third edition of UUnited Music Festival, a new orchestra has been created: the UUnited Orchestra. This orchestra collects together musicians from different student music associations and ranges somewhere between a traditional big band and a symphonic orchestra for strings and wind instruments. This melting pot of musical styles and orchestras not only brings the different student music associations closer together, it also brings the audience the best of what this music scene has to offer. Expect a mix of funky grooves, soulful sounds and flaming vocals!
Apart from the talented student music associations already mentioned, Parnassos also boasts a fantastic dance crew: the LOF DanceCrew @ Parnassos! This dance group consists of ten spirited students with a passion for dance. Together, they work on choreographies for events and dance performances both at Parnassos and independently.