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.

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.

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 Merrie England in March 2019.  

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.

UC Percussion Ensemble •  John Corkill, Director

The UC Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of John Corkill, consists of skilled student percussionists who specialize in mallets, drum, mixed, and world percussion.  The group rehearses weekly and presents two or more concerts per season, featuring a variety of solo, duo, and small ensemble works for mixed percussion.  Members of the UC Percussion Ensemble play regularly with the University Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz X-tet, and participate in a variety of informal, outreach, and special events during the course of the year.