Fresher first impressions: music in Cambridge

As of today, I have officially been a student at the University of Cambridge for over a week. I have worn the gown, attempted the clubs, spent too much time in Sainsbury’s and can honestly say I can’t wait to spend the next three years here. As a Londoner, I have been particularly interested in discovering what the music scene here is like as it is so different to what I am accustomed to. On my first walk into town I was immediately struck by how present music was. Cambridge boasts an incredibly high standard of busking within the town showcasing some very talented street performers immediately demonstrating how integral music is to Cambridge life.

In my first few days, I decided to ask a few people for their opinions on musical life here to point me in the right direction. On clubbing, it seemed to be the general consensus that, in order to have a good time, a substantial amount of alcohol would be necessary! The word “trash” was bandied around rather a lot when describing the musical choices of the DJ’s here, most likely as a result of an incredible fondness for Disney tunes and old school chart toppers. The only exception was Fez, a club primarily known for its slightly more edgy choice of dance music and its substantial hipster throng. Having now tested out a few, I must agree wholeheartedly with these wiser students. After singing the Lion King at Cindies, walking home freezing cold covered in wet foam, and being stamped on at Lolas, I may now choose to settle for the College Bar as my more regular haunt. However, on those few occasions where you really do want to just to dance the night away to rubbish, you have definitely come to the right place.

There seemed to be a great deal more enthusiasm when it came to discussing the Classical music scene – there was simply such an array of incredible concerts to go to and participate in that I would find it impossible to not be busy at all times. Walking through Cambridge this became visibly evident as every spare inch of railing and gate seemed to have been plastered with flyers and concert promotion. In addition to this, with such an active student body of musicians playing to an incredibly high standard it seems inevitable that such a diverse and stimulating culture exists and has done so for many years here. As a Muso, my diary has already begun to fill up with plentiful rehearsals, many of which are being run by students, performing a brilliant but also accessible repertoire. If you are on the lookout for some great concerts you need look no further than your own College Chapel where there is sure to be any number of recitals and choral evenings, not to mention the brilliant West Road Concert Hall which plays host to top notch chamber music ensembles, Soloists and Orchestras. Be it a lunchtime recital or a full scale Orchestral concert there is no end to what you could get involved in. Be sure to check out the CUMS Season Launch performance on the 21st October, featuring internationally recognised pianist Tom Poster and Cambridge’s flagship Orchestra, CUO. Playing popular classics such as Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals, the evening promises to be thoroughly enjoyable and a great introduction for somebody wanting to get more involved in Classical music!


“The prospect of watching Dizzee Rascal one night and then an obscure indie band the next could indeed be peculiar, but also showcases the sheer diversity we celebrate within this town”


Last but not least, live gigs received a rather mixed bag of reviews. For some, there was very little they were interested in with regards to the artists Cambridge attracts. The selection here can be a little hit and miss, and the line-ups can often end up seeming fairly random, however for some this is the charm of Cambridge. The prospect of watching Dizzee Rascal one night and then an obscure indie band the next could indeed be peculiar, but also showcases the sheer diversity we celebrate within this town. In that sense, there truly is something for everybody! Venues such as Cambridge Junction and Corn Exchange offer some of the best live music around, however there is also plenty on offer from many of the local pubs.




Originally published on Varsity on 17/10/2017

Image courtesy of Hermione Kellow | KellowTalk

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