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.
Rehearsals & Performances
The USO rehearses weekly on Wednesdays, 7:00-10:00 p.m. The ensemble presents five to six concerts per year.
- Saturday, October 29, 7:00 & 9:00 p.m., Halloween Concert with Hyde Park School of Dance
- Saturday, December 3, 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
- Saturday, January 28, 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
- Saturday, February 25, 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
- Saturday, May 6, 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall - with the University Choirs
- Sunday, May 7, 3:00 p.m., Mandel Hall - with the University Choirs
Students interested in joining the University Symphony Orchestra must audition at the beginning of Autumn Quarter. Please visit the Auditions page for complete information including audition requirements.
On Thursday, August 18, 2022, Performance Program Director Barbara Schubert held an interactive virtual information session about the Department of Music's Performance Program. The event was recorded and is available to watch on YouTube.
On Wednesday, September 7, 2022, Performance Program Director Barbara Schubert, University Wind Ensemble Director Nicholas Carlson, University Chamber Orchestra Director Matthew Sheppard, Percussion Ensemble Director John Corkill, and Jazz Ensemble Director Michael Allemana hosted an interactive virtual information session about the Department of Music's instrumental ensembles and programs. The event was recorded and is available to watch on YouTube.