Newnham College’s ‘Raleigh Music Society’ puts on a variety of events throughout the year, including one gala College concert each term in the beautiful setting of Clough Hall, to which all our ensembles, as well as soloists and other College groups are invited to perform. The biggest of these concerts is our Music for the Festive Season event, which takes place at 2pm on the last Sunday of term, and is followed by mulled wine and mince pies.

In addition to our gala concerts, we hold weekly lunchtime recitals, from 1.20-1.50pm on Wednesdays in the Old Labs, a lovely building set at the back of the College Gardens, which is ideal for musical and dramatic activities. All members of College are welcome to give (as well as to attend!) a recital; we also host performers from outside of the College.

In addition to these regular events, we also hold one-off concerts and recitals, and the Director of Music is always happy to hear from students about any possible musical projects that they would like to carry out in College. We welcome all genres of music in our concerts and recitals, and everyone, whatever their musical level (whether beginner, or advanced performer), is warmly encouraged to take part!

Practice facilities and instruments

Music facilities for students include two practice rooms with upright pianos in the Old Labs, and one upright piano in Holly Cottage; five grand pianos (a Boston 7-foot and a Bosendorfer concert grand in the Main space, and Practice Room 1 of the Old Labs respectively; a Steinway in the MCR, a Yamaha in Clough Hall, and a Steinway in the Principal’s Lodge), and a harpsichord in the Old Labs. We also have a drum kit, which is housed in Practice Room 1 of the Old Labs.

To use the two practice rooms in the Old Labs with upright pianos, no booking is required: please just go to the Porters’ Lodge and ask if a practice room is available. To use the main space in the Old Labs, or to practice on the Yamaha in Clough Hall, booking is required through the Conference office. To use the drum kit or the harpsichord, permission is first required from the Director of Music. The piano in the MCR is available for use by MCR members.

Newnham offers choral awards to undergraduate students to sing in Selwyn College Chapel Choir; there are generally about six awardholders at any one time. Newnham also offers its own vocal/instrumental awards, in addition to the University’s Instrumental Award Scheme (see below).

Director of Music

Newnham’s Director of Music is Delphine Mordey. Delphine helps the Raleigh Music Society Committee members with their duties, hopes to foster different kinds of music-making in College, and provides a focal point and vision for musical activities in Newnham. She is also the person to ask if you have any questions about use of pianos, borrowing or hiring music, finding other players or singers, finding music teachers, applying for music awards, etc. Delphine is always happy to hear from College musicians, and from prospective students who want to know more about the musical life of the college. She can be contacted on

Choral Awards
Application for Choral Awards (undergraduate students only) is through the University Choral Award scheme. Newnham College Choral Scholars join the mixed Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, across the road from Newnham.

Musical ensembles at Newnham

Voices of Newnham
Newnham has its very own a cappella group, Voices of Newnham, which performs at all the college concerts, as well as at special events throughout the year. Recent repertoire has included Vaughan William’s Linden Lea, Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek, Berlioz’s, ‘Shepherd’s Farewell’ from L’Enfance du Christ, and a James Bond medley! The ensemble is student run, and many of the musical arrangements are created by members of the group. Membership is by a short, friendly audition.

Newnham College Orchestra
The non-auditioning college orchestra is open to all college musicians. Rehearsals take place in the week before the termly College Concert; recent works performed by the orchestra have included Fauré’s Pavane, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Vaughan Williams’ Dives and Lazarus, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, selections from Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances, and Carl Davis’s music for the BBC series Pride and Prejudice.

Newnham Brass
Established in October 2022, Newnham Brass is a non-auditioning ensemble, open to all brass players in the college, of any level. Coached by our very own Bursar and brass specialist, Christopher Lawrence, the ensemble performs in the three main college concerts (Music for the Festive Season, the Lent Term Concert and the May Week Concert), following just a couple of rehearsals. This is a great way to meet other brass players in college, play some really fun music, and receive expert guidance.

College Music Awards
Newnham College runs its own music award scheme, with two types of award:

Music Organiser awards: Music Organisers, appointed each January for a calendar year, take responsibility for certain College musical events and for the general organisation and encouragement of music in the College. They are awarded £100 per year, with an additional sum towards music lessons if they do not hold University Instrumental Awards or a Newnham Choral Scholarship.

Instrumental and vocal awards: these are awarded by audition during the Michaelmas Term each year, and are worth £150. Holders are expected to play a full part in College musical life and to be prepared to perform in College concerts. University Instrumental Award-holders and Newnham Choral Scholars are not eligible for these college awards.

Raleigh Music Society
The Newnham Raleigh Society, founded in the very early days of the College, organises the regular termly concerts, and the lunchtime concerts that take place on most Wednesdays in Full Term. For more information, please see our Facebook page and the Events section of this website; we are also active on Instagram (@raleighsociety) and Twitter (@RaleighSociety). Our events are free to attend and are open to the public. Other occasional musical events such as master classes are organised in the Old Labs: in recent years we have had master classes given by Alexander Boyd (piano), and the Anna Tilbrook trio (piano, violin, cello).