Historical Performance

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is one of Australia’s most vibrant centres for the study of early music and historical performance. Lecturers in the Sydney Conservatorium Historical Performance Unit include musicians who perform regularly with leading national and international ensembles which foster historically informed performance (HIP) such as the Ironwood, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Orchestra of the Antipodes, Pinchgut Opera, Salut! Baroque, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and English Baroque Soloists.

The Historical Performance Unit currently offers tuition in a wide range of historical instruments including clavichord; harpsichord; fortepiano (including 18th and 19th centuries); lute and guitar; viola da gamba; trumpet; cornetto; sackbut; historical violin, viola, cello and bass (from the 17th to the 19th centuries); recorder; Baroque and classical flutes, oboes and bassoons. These instruments can be taken as a principal study for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

Chamber music and orchestral studies programs complement academic studies in historical performance. Students gain experience in the Early Music Ensemble (the Sydney Conservatorium’s period instrument orchestra), meeting twice weekly and performing four or more varied concert programs each year. Masterclasses and lecture/demonstrations from local and international artists supplement the student’s experience, and the Historical Performance Workshop provides hands-on and immediate feedback from teachers and peers.

Study Options

Historical Performance Faculty

Audition Requirements


Music Skills Test

Since prior music skills development is essential for successful study at the Sydney Conservatorium, the Music Skills Test must be completed. The test is held at the Conservatorium during the audition/interview period and is designed to assess whether you have a sufficient level of music literacy in harmony and aural perception to cope with the demands of the course. As a guide, the minimum level of skills possessed should be at the level of the New South Wales Music 2 syllabus (formerly 2 Unit Music) or AMEB Level 6 Musicianship or equivalent. Results of the Music Skills Test supplement the information provided by other aspects of the audition process. If you are successful, the results also help to determine streaming in aural and harmony subjects.

Audition DVD Recording

Where possible, you should attend a live audition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. If you are an interstate or international applicant and cannot attend in person, you may submit a video recorded audition through the application process. The recordings must be no older than six weeks at the time of dispatch.  Audio-only recordings will not be accepted.

Accompaniment for Live Auditions

Early Music applicants are required to have specialised accompaniment at the audition.  Applicants who experience difficulties in obtaining an accompanist, should contact Dr Neal Peres Da Costa, Chair of Historical Performance.

All Undergraduate Degrees

  1. Prepared 10-15 minute recital with three contrasting works
  2. Music Skills Test


Please contact Dr Neal Peres Da Costa, Chair of Historical Performance, for more information about postgraduate audition requirements.