University Symphony Orchestra

Barbara Schubert conducts the 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, Dvořák, Mahler, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, and more. Over the past decade the USO has presented a number of silent films with live orchestral accompaniment as well, including Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. The USO performs with acclaimed young professional soloists nearly every season, and it features UChicago Concerto Competition winners every second year.

USO string sections receive coaching by the Department's Artists-in-Residence and Chicago-are professional musicians; woodwind, brass, and percussion sections are coached by local professionals and members of the Department's Ensembles-in-Residence.

Membership in the University Symphony is selected on the basis of competitive auditions held at the beginning of each academic year. The USO includes both undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, UChicago alumni, and community members, with preference for membership given to qualified UChicago students.

2019-20 Concert Dates


  • Wednesdays, 7:00-10:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
  • Additional rehearsals may be scheduled as performance dates near.


Students interested in joining the University Symphony Orchestra must sign up for an Instrumental Audition. Audition signup is on the 8th floor lobby of the Logan Center for the Arts beginning Monday, September 23 at 11:00 a.m. and continuing through Monday, September 30. The signup table will be staffed weekdays (M-F) from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on weekends (Sat/Sun) from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. The 2019 Instrumental Auditions will be held Wednesday, September 25 through Monday, September 30.  Sign up as early as possible for the best selection of audition times.

Please visit the Auditions page for complete information including audition requirements.