Portsmouth's music scene
Life outside study
Portsmouth has a long history of hosting famous bands such as Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, and a growing local music scene supported by dedicated venues.
You can easily find yourself at gigs multiple times a week, rehearsing your own music at open mic nights, or playing at one of the music festivals for upcoming bands.
Unfortunately due to the Covid pandemic, some venues, shops and events may be restricted, closed or postponed in line with government advice. Please check directly with the businesses, organisers or hosts, to confirm what activities and services are available.
Music festivals in Portsmouth
The biggest music festivals in or near Portsmouth are the Victorious Festival and the Isle of Wight Festival. If you're looking for local bands and a cheaper ticket price, check out Icebreaker or Dials.
Victorious Festival is a homegrown Portsmouth festival. Held on Southsea Common with stages overlooking the sea, it combines local bands, world music and family-friendly areas with headliners like Bloc Party, The Prodigy, Two Door Cinema Club, New Order, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Mark Ronson and The Charlatans.
Dials Festival is an annual multi-venue festival providing a platform for local bands on the south coast. Dials showcases growing artists and raises money for a local mental health charity. In 2019, it raised £2,500 for Solent Mind.
Music venues in Portsmouth
You'll find gigs all across Portsmouth. To get you started, these are some of the city's best known and most active local venues – including Portsmouth's famous Wedgewood Rooms.
The Wedgewood Rooms, or The Wedge, is one of Southsea's oldest alternative venues. Since 1992, local music fans have had the chance to see big names like Primal Scream, Elbow, Kasabian, Oasis, The Strokes and Razorlight at this small but lively venue.The Wedge also has a smaller venue, The Edge of The Wedge, for new local bands and artists to play to an intimate crowd.
Portsmouth Guildhall is a stone's throw from our campus. This historic building, dating back to 1890, regularly holds conferences and concerts, with a capacity for 2,500 people in the main hall. Previous acts who played at the Guildhall include The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Iron Maiden, Bob Dylan, Mumford and Sons, and Radiohead.
The Pyramids is one of the larger venues in Portsmouth on Southsea seafront. Previous acts have included Arctic Monkeys, The Prodigy, James Bay, Franz Ferdinand, Muse, Biffy Clyro and Enter Shikari.
Recording studios and rehearsal space
If you're looking for somewhere for your band to practice, or you want to make a recording, these local companies provide recording services and/or rehearsal space.
Music opportunities at the University
When you study with us, you'll have access to specialist music facilities and you can listen to or perform with many ensembles. You can take part in various music activities, whichever course you study. You can also hire instruments or arrange private tuition from the Music Department.
Join an ensemble
If you're interested in playing jazz, funk, soul and blues, you can join our Big Band. The band has saxophone, trombone, trumpet and rhythm sections and plays in various venues, and at concerts and balls.
When you join our University choir, you'll usually perform twice a year in local venues, including in the Portsmouth cathedrals, and take part in the University Carol Service. Recent concerts included works such as Haydn's Nelson Mass and Handel's Messiah. We've also collaborated with other local choirs such as the Portsmouth Festival Choir.
Our choir offers choral scholarships to singers studying any subject at Portsmouth. You'll get free individual singing lessons with one of our singing tutors and be an ambassador for our choir. Contact the Music Department at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply for a choral scholarship.
Join our Concert Band and you'll get to play music from the stage and screen, pop songs from various decades and well-known classical pieces and folk songs. We welcome all woodwind and brass instruments as well as string bass, drums and percussion.
Ideally, you should play to grade 3 standard. But if you're a beginner and you're keen to develop your learning in a friendly, relaxed environment, you're also welcome.
Join our Dramatic and Musical Society and take part in a musical or light opera in a professional theatre in Portsmouth each year. Acting experience isn't necessary. We also welcome choreographers, musical helpers and people to work in production roles such as props, costume and set.
Recent productions by the society include Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story.
If you play an instrument to grade 5 standard, you can join our University orchestra. If you're a wind player, you might be asked to audition at the beginning of the academic year due to a high demand for places. When you become a member of the orchestra, you'll take part in 3 performances a year.
The first performance is usually a shared concert with the University Concert Band, where you'll play music such as Dvorak's New World Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 6th. The second performance supports the Dramatic and Musical Society for their annual February production at the New Theatre Royal.
The third performance is usually a jamboree concert featuring all our ensembles. Every other year the performance also serves as preparation for our biennial international tour, where you'll play music such as Dvorak's New World Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 6th.
Our Music Department offers private tuition in voice, piano, violin, clarinet, saxophone and music theory. We can also help you find a private tutor for most other musical instruments.
Students' Union music societies
If you want to be part of the local music scene in Portsmouth, you can start by joining one of the music societies run by students through our Students' Union.
Many events take place at the Guildhall, while orchestras, choirs and amateur dramatic (AmDram) societies perform in theatres, cathedrals and churches around the city and surrounding areas.
The website Music in Portsmouth lists classical concerts in and around Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Chamber Music Series runs from October to May. And you can buy tickets for classical music events on our online store.
If you're a talented organ player, you can apply for a Foundation Organ Scholarship at St Mary's Church, a large inner-city parish church. The year-long scholarship is for organists aged 16–25. You don't have to be part of the Anglican Church to apply, but you should be prepared to take part in their traditions.
If you love music and want to be involved in using music to benefit disadvantaged communities, you can support several music charities in and around Portsmouth.
Tonic: Music for Mental Health
Tonic: Music for Mental Health funds music workshops, gigs, art groups and community projects to help people recover from mental health problems. Tonic has celebrity support from artists including Terry Hall from The Specials and Kevin Cummins, a legendary rock photographer.
Music Fusion is a charity based in Havant that encourages young people to make music. Their East Street recording studio is a safe, friendly and creative space for young people to connect, socialise and make music. They also encourage young artists to use music as a platform for positive social action.
The CEO and Founder of Music Fusion, Jinx Prowse, is one of our alumni. Jinx supports future entrepreneurs for social change through our Entrepreneurs in Residence programme.
Find out more about life in Portsmouth
Take a closer look at more of the exciting things on offer in our amazing city.
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Portsmouth is a bustling city with the sea on our doorstep and green spaces all around.
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