Instrumental Ensembles

Director of Performance Program Barbara Schubert spearheads the instrumental ensemble program at Chicago, which includes the:

The latter two groups are conducted by talented young conductors from the Chicago area, each a specialist in the particular genre.

There is one set of auditions, held at the beginning of the academic year, for membership in any of these three Department instrumental ensembles.  Returning musicians are required to re-audition every season.  Occasional openings occur mid-year in these ensembles, but in general students are both encouraged and expected to participate throughout the season.

University Symphony Orchestra  •  Barbara Schubert, Director

The 100-member University Symphony Orchestra presents an ambitious season of six major concerts per year (two each quarter).  Widely known for its imaginative presentations of unusual repertoire as well as for its powerful performances of major symphonic literature, the University Symphony opens each season with a costumed Halloween concert – a family-friendly event enhanced by storytelling, dancing, and special effects – and generally closes the year with a celebratory year-end collaboration with the combined choirs.  Repertoire encompasses 19th- and 20th- century works written for large orchestral forces, including masterpieces as well as lesser known gems by Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorák, Mahler, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, and more.  In recent years the USO has presented a number of silent films with live orchestral accompaniment, including Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, and has performed with acclaimed young professional soloists nearly every season. USO string sections are coached by members of the Spektral Quartet, Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago;  woodwind, brass, and percussion sections are coached by local professional musicians.  Membership in the University Symphony is selected on the basis of competitive auditions held at the beginning of the year, and includes both undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, UChicago alumni, and community members.

2016-2017 Concert Dates:

  • Saturday, October 29 at 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm, Mandel Hall: Annual Halloween Concert: Magic, Curses, and Spells!
  • Saturday, December 3 at 8:00 pm, Mandel Hall: Samuel Barber, An American Master
  • Saturday, January 28 at 8:00 pm, Mandel Hall: Mexican Medley
  • Saturday, March 4 at 8:00 pm, Mandel Hall: featuring Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique
  • Saturday, April 22 at 8:00 pm, Mandel Hall: featuring Gershwin's Concerto in F
  • Saturday, May 27 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, May 28 at 3:00 pm, Mandel Hall: featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Choral, with the combined UChicago choirs


  • Wednesdays, 7:00-10:00 pm, Mandel Hall

University Chamber Orchestra  •  Matthew Sheppard, Director

The University Chamber Orchestra is a 30- to 40-member ensemble of strings, woodwinds, and horns that specializes in Baroque, Classical, and 20th-century repertoire for smaller orchestra.  The group presents three concerts per year, often pairing a major symphony by Mozart or Haydn with an overture, suite, or concerto for similar forces.  UCO string sections are coached by members of the Spektral Quartet.  The University Chamber Orchestra also serves as the pit orchestra for the Department’s annual collaboration with the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, which will present Iolanthe in March 2017.  

2016-2017 Concert Dates:

  • Sunday, November 20 at 3:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Saturday, February 4 at 8:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Friday, March 10 through Sunday, March 12, Mandel Hall: Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe
  • Saturday, May 13 at 8:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall


  • Mondays, 7:00-9:30 pm, Logan Penthouse

University Wind Ensemble  •  Chip De Stefano, Director

The University Wind Ensemble is an auditioned group of 50 to 60 instrumentalists with a diverse range of musical interests and experience.  The UWE presents one concert per quarter, after an intensive preparation period of six to seven weeks.  With a focus on modern literature conceived specifically for the wind ensemble medium, the UWE provides its members with an opportunity to perform music by such renowned wind composers as Malcolm Arnold, Percy Grainger, Gustav Holst, Frank Ticheli, and more, as well as transcriptions of orchestral masterpieces by J. S. Bach, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, and others.  Membership includes talented undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, and community members who are dedicated to bringing a wide array of music to the University community.

2016-2017 Concert Dates:

  • Sunday, November 13 at 4:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Sunday, February 19 at 4:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall
  • Sunday, May 14 at 4:00 pm, Logan Performance Hall


  • Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30 pm, Logan Penthouse
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