Music and the Arts

Dance, poetry, drama, photography, sculpture, creative writing or music? Whatever your artistic passion, there's a way for you to develop, share and enjoy it at St Hilda's.

A message from the Director of College Music, Dr Jonathan Williams

With concerts, exhibitions, workshops, readings and drama productions all taking place within College, St Hilda's students enjoy one of the most exciting college-based cultural environments in Oxford. St Hilda's award-winning Drama Society puts on a performance each term. 

In these socially-distanced times, St Hilda's commitment to music remains strong. Our facilities are world class. At our Jacqueline du Pré Music Building - with its Steinway D concert grand piano, recording studio and well-equipped practice rooms - you can be sure that whatever your musical tastes, you will have every opportunity to enjoy music. If you play an instrument or sing then you can join our orchestra or choir. You could form your own chamber ensemble or band, or just make the most of our wonderful practice facilities. And of course, we have a world-class venue where you can attend free recitals every Thursday lunchtime during term. When the was JdP closed to audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the concerts were made available for the first time via livestream. Some of the lunchtime recitals are still available to watch on YouTube.

St Hilda’s College Orchestra, a new project for this year, is a student-led, non-auditioned group that practises on Sunday evenings and puts on three concerts a year. We aim to allow college members and other members of the University to perform some of the great works of classical music in a comfortable, non-intense setting. This term’s repertoire is Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Beethoven’s Symphony no.3 ‘Eroica’. For more information or any questions please contact the director for this year, Maddie Lay.

In addition, other groups of players gather with the Director of College Music to perform at college events such as the Founders Day Service, Carol Concert and annual Come and Sing!. There are, in addition, numerous other smaller-scale chamber groups such piano trio, wind quintet, jazz band and string quartet in which you can play. Please contact Dr Jonathan Williams about how to get involved.

The Choir of St Hilda's College, Oxford

The Choir of St Hilda's College is at the heart of the College and has performed at the big college events throughout the year. Past highlights include performances of Fauré's Requiem, Haydn's Nelson Mass and the premiere of Nicola Lefanu’s cantata Hilda of Whitby, all with the orchestra at the University Church. The choir has represented the College further afield too, most recently going on tour to Herstmonceux Castle. Our 6th annual St Hilda's Come and Sing! took place in March, when the choir and guests performed Part II of Handel’s Messiah:The Passion, culminating in the Hallelujah Chorus.

In previous academic years, choir rehearsals were in the JdP every Thursday from 5.30pm until 6.45pm, followed by a FREE meal and wine in the College Dining Hall. We hope to be able to re-start this in the future. No audition is necessary and all are welcome to come and sing.

In 2019 eight Choral Scholarships at St Hilda's were created thanks to the generous support of college alumna and JdP Patron, Louisa Hemming. Each scholarship is worth £200 a year. Auditions are held at the start of Michaelmas Term. Applications and any queries should be sent to the Director of College Music, Dr Jonathan Williams.

The College Orchestra and other ensembles

The college orchestra performs once a term after a period of focussed rehearsal. There are, in addition, numerous other smaller-scale chamber groups such piano trio, wind quintet and string quartet.

Thursday lunchtime concerts

St Hilda's College is unique in offering weekly concerts performed by members of College, students from across the University and professional musicians. These half-hour events are held at the JdP on Thursday lunchtimes during term, starting at 1.15pm. The concerts are available for the first time livestreamed via the JdP website. They are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy music in a friendly atmosphere and to take a break from work for a while.

The Jacqueline du Pré Music Building (JdP)

The Jacqueline du Pré Music Building (JdP) is a purpose-built world class concert venue built in memory of the outstanding cellist and honorary fellow of St Hilda's, Jacqueline du Pré. There's always something to enjoy and a list of all forthcoming and past events that are still available to view is available on the JdP website. College members enjoy significant discounts on ticket prices.

Practice facilities

At the heart of the JdP is the Edward Boyle Auditorium (with our superb Steinway model D grand piano), a recording studio and four practice rooms which house a Steinway model B grand piano, four new Yamaha upright pianos (including one 'silent' instrument) and a harpsichord. These rooms are available to all St Hilda's students, seven days a week, from 7am to 11pm (subject to recordings and concerts). 

The JdP Team

James Adcock, JdP and Student Musical Events Lead

Dr Jonathan Williams, Director of College Music

Professor Martyn Harry, John Bennett Lecturer in Music


Music at the JdP, St Hilda's CollegeSteinway D concert grand piano, Jacqueline du Pre Music BuildingPractice Room, JdP