Musicians of St Andrews

Despite not currently offering a music degree, St Andrews provides incredible opportunities for student musicians, with hundreds of students every year playing or singing in the many groups and ensembles that the University or the student-run Music Society have to offer. 

For an increasing numbers of graduates, their musical interests take them beyond their studies here, either into the world of the professional musician or into music administration. Our intern, Francis Newman, spoke to some of them about how music at St Andrews shaped their experience.


Maebh Martin (MA 2016, French & German)

A multi-talented violinist, chorister, pianist and conductor, Maebh’s many musical achievements in St Andrews included gaining both a choral and an instrumental scholarship, singing in St Salvator’s Chapel Choir, leading St Andrews Symphony Orchestra and playing as soloist in Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the St Andrews Chamber Orchestra during the 600th Anniversary celebrations. 

What is your favourite musical memory from St Andrews?

I’m not sure I could pinpoint one occasion in particular, but what sticks with me very powerfully is the feeling of walking onstage just before, and coming offstage just after a concert; I was lucky enough to do so many times in the Younger Hall, which is a truly spectacular venue to perform in. There is nothing quite like the buzz you get from making music alongside friends and colleagues, knowing that the audience is (hopefully) enjoying it just as much as you are!

How has your degree/have your musical activities in St Andrews helped you since graduating?

Many of my closest friendships were forged through music making in St Andrews, and I have made invaluable connections worldwide as a result of being involved in both academic and extra-curricular musical life. I’ve also traveled quite a bit around Europe thanks to my Modern Languages degree, and I’ve found, without exception, that music has allowed me to connect with people wherever in the world I go.

What are you doing at the moment?

I currently live in Paris, where I teach English at the Sorbonne University, and I’m also pursuing an active musical life based mainly between Paris, London and Belfast. I have regular violin lessons with the incredible Lucy Russell and I’m just about to embark on a ten-month conducting course. Earlier in the summer, I even managed to squeeze in a visit to St Andrews to play a ceilidh on Lower College Lawn!

mairi 1

Mairi in Younger Hall

Mairi Warren (MA 2016, Psychology)

While at the University Mairi, a violinist, was President of the Music Society and a member of the Hetty Buchanan Scholarship String Quartet. She also studied psychology, writing a dissertation on the effect of making mistakes on musical performance.

What was your favourite musical memory from St Andrews?

There are so many but I particularly enjoyed going to The Burn for weekends with Chamber Orchestra, and post orchestra concert socials!

How has your time in St Andrews helped you since graduating?

I work in classical music marketing, so the musical activities help with my music knowledge. My psychology degree helps with the more analytical side of marketing.

What are you doing at the moment?

I work in Marketing for the Classical Music events at the Barbican Centre in London. This involves coordinating brochures, concert programmes, digital ads, social media, e-news and website content, and liaising with resident orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra, and various visiting international orchestras and soloists. I perform regularly with the London City Orchestra and also recently took up Kung Fu!

mairi 2

Rufus Sullivan (BSc 2017, Marine Biology)

Rufus was Senior Chorister of St Salvator’s Chapel Choir while here at St Andrews reading for a BSc in Marine Biology, and now works for the University Music Centre and the Scottish Chamber Orhcestra.  He has recently taken up the viola as well.

What was your favourite musical memory from St Andrews?

My favourite musical memory was probably getting to perform Bach’s fantastic B minor Mass with the St Salvator’s Chapel Choir and Kellie Consort – although several opportunities with excellent musicians like Dame Emma Kirkby, The ‘24’ and Sir John Eliot Gardiner have also been up with the best!

What are you doing at the moment?

Since graduating with a BSc in Marine Biology in the summer of 2017 I have started in the Graduate Trainee position of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and University of St Andrews Music Centre. It was less my degree and more the vast array of musical experience I managed to get in my spare time at the University that helped me get the job and now helps me in the job. My time as Chapel Choir Librarian and Senior Chorister showed me useful skills in musical organisation and administration that I am now putting into use every day

Kart Johanna Ojamae (BSc 2017, Economics)

Another former president of Music Society, Johanna was also a member of the St Andrews Madrigal Group during her time here. She also played in St Andrews Symphony Orchestra and many other choirs and ensembles. Johanna moved to London after graduation and now works at Apple doing marketing for iTunes.

What is your favourite musical memory from St Andrews?

There are too many to choose from but if I have to pick one it has to be the Madrigal Group winter tour to Estonia. It was definitely stressful to organise but seeing all the members really enjoy it and singing to the British ambassador made it all worth it!

How has your time in St Andrews helped you since graduating?

There are so many ways in which being involved with music helped me through my time at university and after. I learned to manage my time, work with professionals and became more confident in public speaking as well as in general. On top of the personal development, I also met the most incredible and inspiring people, some of who I can call my best friends today. The experiences I had and people I met through musical activities were the most valuable part of my 4 years at St Andrews!


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