Music To Our Ears: Listening to LUUMS

Music listener? Music maker? Or just a Music lover? If you fall under any of these categories, then take a gander at all the amazing opportunities being put on by LUUMS, and see how you can get involved in all the fun.

For those of you whose acronym skills aren’t what they used to be, then LUUMS stands for the Leeds University Union Music Society. As one of the biggest societies at the Union, LUUMS pride themselves on their inclusivity, as well as their commitment to “provide an opportunity for anyone and everyone to perform no matter their instrument or standard.” Chatting to Tasha Gavin, the president of LUUMS, The Gryphon discovered exactly what makes the society tick.

There are ten different ensembles within LUUMS. Four of these groups – Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Orchestra (SWO) and Chamber Choir – require an audition, while the remaining six are open for anyone to join. These six open ensembles consist of two choirs (Chorus and Symphonic Choir), three instrumental ensembles (Brass Band, Concert Band, and Sinfonia Orchestra) and a Composers’ Ensemble. While these groups all sound very classical in nature, Tasha promises that LUUMS “also run a series of performance platforms to allow popular musicians to get involved in our society as well.”


It’s this genuine focus on inclusivity which drives LUUMS’ successful ethos as an LUU society. “We try to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved in LUUMS”, Tasha comments. “Alongside our GIAGs, organised each semester through the Union, people can start to come along to the rehearsals of our open ensembles at any point throughout the year. We hold auditions for our four other ensembles during Freshers’ Week, from Monday right through to Sunday, to give as many people as possible the chance to try out.”

However, if performing isn’t entirely your cup of tea, then LUUMS has still got you covered. Acknowledging that people can enjoy music without necessarily wanting to perform, the society “offers a Departmental Membership for anyone who would like to be a part of our society but does not want to get up on stage themselves.” This membership gives you access to all of LUUMS’ socials and other events, as well as free tickets to all of their concerts, making it a rival to Pyramid’s infamous ‘Soup and a Toastie’ as the best student deal on campus.

The more competitive among you may be wondering what competitions LUUMS run or enter throughout the year. Tasha excitedly lists off the array of internal competitions the society offers. “Within LUUMS we run a Piano and Chamber Showcase, which not only provides pianists with an extra opportunity to perform, but also gives instrumentalists the chance to perform in smaller groups that we are unable to run regularly throughout the year. Members of the Music School staff attend this and give feedback on the performances at the end, making it an educational and enjoyable experience. Externally, the LUUMS Brass Band compete in the annual University Brass Band Championship of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: UniBrass. This year, they have been moved up from the Shield Category to the Trophy Category, and we wish them all the best of luck with that!”


As mentioned, LUUMS isn’t all about performing; the society put on a lot of socials across the calendar, something Tasha is proud to touch on. “We try to do a variety of different socials throughout the year. Alongside the classic Otley Runs and annual society ball, we also put on an Intro Party and have regular nights out to Revolution in town. As a music society, we also try to do music-related socials which vary from our Friday Feature performance platforms to organising trips to see the shows and events put on by other performance societies within the union. The Wider Exec also organise their own individual ensemble socials throughout the year, ranging from trips to Laserzone to going to see professional orchestras perform at the Town Hall.”

Like most things on LUUMS’ menu, it’s a diverse selection. Rather than pigeon-holing students into a single category, they society opens its doors to many hobbies and interests – and they do it regularly. “Each ensemble performs at least three times a year, in our Autumn Concert Series, our Summer Concert Series, and our Showcase Concerts. They are also able to organise their own performance opportunities, such as busking for fundraising, and the LUUMS Brass Band do a joint concert with the brass bands of Warwick and Durham Universities every year. These performances are an excellent experience for all of our members, particularly the Showcase Concerts which take place in an external venue off campus. All concerts include a raffle as part of our fundraising, and our Autumn and Summer Concerts Series are live-streamed to ensure that people’s families can watch even if they’re unable to travel to Leeds. Our auditioned ensembles also go on tour every year, performing in a variety of venues in cities across Europe.”

Being such a large society, there is rarely any need for LUUMS to team up with any other groups across campus. However, while admitting that “it is hard to organise actual collaborations”, sometimes, some magical partnerships occur. Members of the Comedy Society performed at LUUMS’ most recent Friday Feature, and the A Capella society also added a lovely touch of panache to last year’s Christmas Party. Tasha notes that it’s all part of bringing like-minded students together, whether their interest be music or dance or anything else creative.

LUUMS’ Christmas Concert Series continues as follows:

  • Symphonic Choir & Concert Band – 2nd December, 3pm
  • Composers’ Ensemble – 5th December, 7:30pm
  • Symphony Orchestra – 9th December, 3pm
  • LUUMS Carol Concert – 15th December, 5pm

Robbie Cairns


(All images courtesy of LUUMS)