Heriot-Watt's choir and orchestra performing at the John Archer Memorial Concert

Heriot-Watt University's students and staff are involved in a wide range of musical activities, from classical and traditional Scottish to jazz and funk music. Our music groups have travelled to perform for audiences all over the country, from Orkney to Knoydart and from Skye to the Borders.

Steve King, Director of Music at Heriot-Watt and viola player with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, is furthering his initiative to expand the role of music at Heriot-Watt through events, scholarships, music groups and the Scottish Composers Competition.

Events and activities

All our music events are listed in the University events calendar.

Our music brochure has full details of our current programme and activities.

Download brochure


We award many music scholarships each year, supported by the Alumni Fund, in the form of free music tuition (up to a value of £400 per year) for talented singers and instrumentalists.



Sinfonia Excelsior gives regular concerts on and off campus including the annual concert in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and plays at the University's annual carol service. The orchestra is open to students, staff and the local community. Rehearsals start on the first Monday of each semester.


Chorale Excelsior gives concerts on and off campus, and performs in the annual Heriot-Watt choir concert in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, and joins up with the orchestra for other concerts. The choir is open to students, staff and the local community. Rehearsals start on the first Tuesday of each semester.

The Choir performing

Chamber choir

Excelsior Per Cantum's repertoire explores music from the 12th Century to the present day. The choir performs at the University's anniversary service and the choir concert in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh as well as its own concert in the famous Rosslyn Chapel. Rehearsals take place every Monday lunchtime in the Gibson Craig music room.

Three female choir singers

Graduation choir

The University Graduation Choir performs at all the Edinburgh Campus and Borders Campus graduations.

Vocal chamber music

Our singers are encouraged to become involved in a variety of musical activities. The Heriot-Watt Upper Voices Choir produced a very successful CD a few years ago.

Pipe band

Our pipe band was founded in 1994 and performs at range of events, including all the University graduation ceremonies, black tie dinners and community galas and fairs. We offer a stable and supportive base to begin your academic and music education. Many international students who have joined the pipe band have gone on to play in bands in their own countries.

The pipe band is open to students, staff and the local community and rehearses once a week. If you are an enthusiastic piper or snare, tenor or bass drummer then we would love to hear from you.

Heriot-Watt Pipe Band

Instrumental chamber music

Excelsior String Quartet and Excelsior Wind Quintet are University-based chamber music groups and are available for concerts, functions and weddings. Coaching is available and help is given to form groups.

Wind ensemble and string groups

The wind ensemble and string groups meet during the year for concerts.

Jazz sessions

The University Big Band meets regularly in Lecture Theatre 4.

Inchcolm New Music Ensemble

The Inchcolm New Music Ensemble (INME) is seen as the flagship of music making at Heriot-Watt, reflecting the cutting edge of science and technology for which Heriot-Watt is celebrated. The group has given concerts in the St Magnus Festival in the Orkney Islands; Inverie in Knoydart; St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh; the Isle of Skye; Ardtornish House; Iona Abbey off the west coast of Mull; Dunkeld Cathedral; Biggar; and Peebles. The INME toured the Czech Republic in June 2008 giving concerts in Prague, Brno and Kromeriz.

To date the Inchcolm New Music Ensemble has premiered over 50 new works over 16 years.

World music

The World Music Improvisation Group meets up at various times during the year for sessions.

Vocal and instrumental tuition

We carry a database of good teachers in Edinburgh who understand the needs and pressures of being a student. Please ask Steve King for recommendations.

Scottish composers competition

We hold an annual competition each year for unpublished Scottish composers. The winners receive a prize and their piece becomes part of the Inchcolm New Music Ensemble repertoire.

Key information

Pipe Band

Steve King