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. In recent years the USO has presented a number of silent films with live orchestral accompaniment as well, including Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, and it has performed with acclaimed young professional soloists nearly every season.

USO string sections receive coaching by Artists-in-Residence; woodwind, brass, and percussion sections are coached by local professional musicians as well.

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.

2018-19 Concert Dates

  • Saturday, October 26 at 7:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m., Mandel Hall: Annual Halloween Concert
  • Saturday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
  • Saturday, February 1 at 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
  • Saturday, March 7 at 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
  • Saturday, April 25 at 8:00 p.m., Mandel Hall
  • Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 31 at 3 p.m., Mandel Hall


  • 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.

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