Barker's co-curricular ensemble program offers a wide variety of performance opportunities for students. All ensembles are graded by ability and age so that the musicians work together at the appropriate level. There are occasions when the different ensembles combine for concerts. Rehearsals for all ensembles take place either before or after school. These ensembles perform at many of the major music events throughout the year, such as Symphony Under the Stars, The Sydney Eisteddfod, The UNSW Band Festival and Barker College concerts at venues such as The Sydney Town Hall and The Concourse in Chatswood.
Barker College has one of the largest school band programs in Australia. There are seven concert bands, three in the junior school and four in the secondary school.
Instrumentalists performing in the school band program may also choose to perform in one of the school stage bands. Similar to the band program, these ensembles are graded according to experience and ability. There are also jazz quintets. The Jazz Orchestra, Stage Bands and Jazz Ensembles are featured at the school dinner dance, Barker Swings, and they perform at many other music events throughout the year.
String players in the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools rehearse and perform in a string orchestra or chamber orchestra. The Symphony Orchestra in both the senior and junior school combines the Chamber Orchestra, selected members of string orchestras and woodwind, brass and percussion players from the Band Program.
Barker College has an outstanding reputation for its choirs. The Senior Choir is a non-auditioned choir and is open to all members of the Senior School. Year 11 and 12 singers in the Senior Choir may audition for the Chamber Choir. The Middle School Choir is a non-auditioned choir for students in Years 7 - 9.
Prep and Junior School students perform in year group choirs as part of their classroom music curriculum. Students in Year 4 - 6 may audition for the Copeland Choir.
In Semester 2 each year, all instrumentalists and vocalists (Year 4 - 12) are required to attend an audition for large ensemble placement the following year. New Barker students will also be invited to attend an interview day in November. An audition timetable is posted in the Music Centre and also sent to parents.
Instrumentalists involved in the large ensemble program may choose to be involved in saxophone, brass, woodwind, percussion and guitar ensembles. String students from Years 3 to 12 also have the opportunity to rehearse and perform repertoire for small ensembles such as duets, trios, quartets and quintets. Pianists can also be involved in this program.
This Chamber Music program is of particular benefit to students who might not normally play in a large ensemble.
A number of students across the school form their own rock bands and rehearse regularly in the Music Centre at lunchtime and after school. Drum kits, amplifiers and microphones are provided by the music department for these rehearsals. The main rock event of the year is the student run concert ‘Coffee House’. Other performance opportunities include Spring Fair, Coffee House Unplugged, Lunchtime Concerts, Assemblies and Chapel. Year 10 rock bands also perform at the annual Vietnam War Day. Rock band rehearsal bookings are organised by the music department technical support assistant.