Academy Strings was founded in 1979 by University of Alberta violin professor Norman Nelson, co-founder of the famed Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. He also conducted the ensemble until 1998, when cellist Tanya Prochazka became director. Academy Strings is the University of Alberta's principal student string ensemble. Requiring a successful audition for admission, the group is composed primarily of string students from the Music Department. Nevertheless, the Academy Strings are proud to boast members from several other branches of the University, including Engineering, Creative Writing, Physics, and Nursing.
Academy Strings, both as a string orchestra and the string sections of the University Symphony Orchestra, perform several concerts a year in the University of Alberta's Convocation Hall, as well as in Edmonton's famous Winspear Centre.
Academy Strings has performed throughout Western Europe, Alberta, and British Columbia. In February 2002, Academy Strings undertook a highly successful concert and educational tour of Cuba, performing in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santa Clara. While in Cuba, performers collaborated with Musica Eterna, the premier student string ensemble from the National Art Institute of Havana. The two ensembles gave concerts and workshops in Havana, as well as school workshops in Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, and Havana.