Front & Centre Music

Music at Cheltenham provides a wealth of opportunity for every pupil to enjoy music and develop their own musical skills.

Some pupils join College as experienced performers, and some are at the start of their musical journeys. The Music Department aims to accommodate all musical interests and abilities, and widen the experience of music for all. Musical life is rich and varied, and all genres and styles are celebrated.


Musicians benefit from exceptional facilities at College. Music at Cheltenham is situated in Thirlestaine House, a beautiful former stately home with fully-equipped classrooms and rehearsal/performance spaces. Our composition suite houses iMacs running Sibelius, Logic Pro, and Spitfire Audio’s BBC Symphony Orchestra sample library. Pupils explore their creativity with incredibly realistic, professionally-produced orchestral sounds.

Cheltenham College is proud to be an ‘All-Steinway School’, and we are the only school in the country to have two world-famous Steinway ‘Model D’ concert grand pianos housed in our main performance venues. Additionally, we have a further three smaller Steinway grands, complemented by 13 of Steinway’s Essex brand upright pianos in the teaching and practice rooms.

Outside of the Music Department we make great use of our magnificent 800-seat Chapel, which has generous acoustics and a celebrated three-manual Harrison & Harrison organ. The majority of performances are held in Big Classical, which has a staged area and raked seating for a capacity audience of 300. Large ensemble rehearsals take place in Thirlestaine Long Gallery.

Ensembles & Performances

Our vocal and instrumental ensembles allow pupils to experience all aspects of group music-making. For example, instrumentalists benefit from full symphony and chamber orchestras as well as advanced chamber ensembles and jazz bands. Vocalists can take part in choirs ranging from the 80-strong College Choir to the Chamber Choir and smaller pop/a cappella groups. A full list of our ensembles and co-curricular groups can be found under ‘Activities and Societies’ here.

We provide options for pupils who wish to enjoy making music as a recreational activity as well as opportunities and support for pupils to take their skills to the highest level. In recent years, senior Music Scholars have performed piano, violin and viola concertos with our Symphony Orchestra and local semi-professional ensembles. We collaborate with the Drama Department to put on a large-scale musical every two years, most recently Grease in March 2023. Trailers, interviews and highlights can be viewed here.

Pupils will have frequent opportunities to demonstrate their talents by performing in formal and informal concerts both at College and elsewhere, including Cheltenham’s Pittville Pump Rooms and Town Hall. The whole Cheltenham College community is supportive of performers, and many attend concerts both home and away.

  • Over 70 performances given per year in venues including: Big Classical, College Chapel, TLG, Music Department, College Field, Quad, Cheltenham Town Hall and Pittville Pump Room
  • Over 20 ensembles rehearsing weekly, ranging from a string quartet to the 70-strong College Choir
  • Around 300 individual music lessons taught per week
  • 40 pupils currently in receipt of Music Awards.

    Follow us on social media to keep up-to-date with our activities!

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    Instagram: @cheltcolmusic

    Pupils display high levels of self-understanding, self-esteem and self-confidence within the classroom and more widely around the school.

    ISI, 2023