UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra

To go to the new website for the orchestra: click here.

Auditions take place at the beginning of each semester. Please refer to the Audition Requirements for more details.

Course Number: Music 141. The UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra is offered every semester, every year. See the class schedule for more registration information.
Membership is open to Berkeley students and community musicians.
Rehearsals: Tuesday & Thursday, 7:30-10:00pm, Hertz Hall

Description and History

Established in 1923, the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra is the oldest performing arts ensemble in the University of California system. Throughout its long history, the orchestra has provided students and other members of the campus community with the opportunity to expand their musical talents, while at the same time presenting outstanding musical programs to the campus and wider Bay Area communities. Past conductors have included Modeste Alloo, Albert Elkus, Joaquin Nin-Culmell, Michael Senturia, and Jung Ho-Pak. David Milnes, who is also Music Director for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, has served as the University Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director since 1996. Rehearsing and performing works of faculty and graduate student composers has long been a core mission for the orchestra; the Symphony’s program regularly feature the world premiere of a major new work by a Berkeley composer. In addition, the orchestra has premiered several works of established composers. The University Symphony Orchestra now performs several evening and noon concerts each semester, supports a chamber orchestra, and continues during the summer months as the UC Berkeley Summer Symphony (link). An annual concerto competition (link) results in concerto performances by the orchestra’s leading soloists, and regular coaching for each section are given by a number of Bay Area professional musicians.

University Symphony Orchestra Endowment Fund

The University Symphony Orchestra proudly announces the creation of a new endowment fund, which has been established with a generous gift from an anonymous donor. Your contribution to the fund will enable the professional development of our student musicians, many of whom go on to careers in music, as well as allowing the orchestra to expand its ongoing educational programs, including the orchestra’s chamber music program, long range planning for touring, and assistance in acquiring new musical instruments. Please help support our continuing educational mission.

The orchestra draws its members from the very best musicians in the campus community. Under the leadership of acclaimed Music Director David Milnes, the orchestra performs 15-18 concerts each year, with programs including symphonic repertoire from Bach through the present. Major symphonic cycles by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Shostakovich, Sibelius and Prokofiev have been offered each season, as well as several world premieres by leading composers. An annual concerto competition highlights the amazing soloistic talent from among the orchestra’s ranks, and members of the orchestra are organized into small chamber groups, performing regularly on the Noon Concert Series as well as all around the campus community.

Tour 2014

The UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra worked diligently to raise money to go on its first European tour in its 90-year history. Under the direction of conductor David Milnes, they performed in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest to enthusiastic audiences. See their tour scrapbook, with photos and blog posts: link: http://orchestra.berkeley.edu/category/tour-2014/

Participation

The symphony is open to non-enrolled students and community members, as well as enrolled students, but everyone must audition. Regular attendance at twice weekly rehearsals, and participation in public performances is required. The Symphony performs several concerts in Hertz Hall each semester, usually one noon concert and 4 to 6 evening concerts per semester, as well as Cal Day each year.

Audition Information

Auditions take place each semester shortly before classes begin. For further information, please contact current Music Director and Conductor, David Milnes, dmilnes@berkeley.edu.

Symphony audition requirements.

Audition information for all performance opportunities in the Music Department.

Upcoming Performances

  • February 10-11 – Friday & Saturday 8pm, Hertz Hall, $20/16/5
    UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
    David Milnes, conductor
    Ashley Kim, flute
    BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra
    NIELSEN, Flute Concerto
    STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
     $20 general public,  $16 non-UCB students, seniors, current/retired Berkeley staff & faculty, groups 10+,  $5 UC Berkeley students, children under 12
    Ticket info: Purchase tickets at the door starting one hour before the performance. Tickets go on sale now. Buy tickets online, or by calling 510-642-9988.
  • March 16-18 – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 8pm, Hertz Hall, $20/16/5
    UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
    David Milnes, conductor
    Amadeus REGUCERA Skin, stretched upon the frame (World Premiere)
    DEBUSSY Iberia
    BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique
     $20 general public,  $16 non-UCB students, seniors, current/retired Berkeley staff & faculty, groups 10+,  $5 UC Berkeley students, children under 12
    Ticket info: Purchase tickets at the door starting one hour before the performance. Tickets go on sale now. Buy tickets online, or by calling 510-642-9988.
  •  Noon Concert: Wednesday, April 5 – 12:15, Hertz Hall, Free
    University Symphony Orchestra Concerto
    David Milnes, music director
    Lauren Washburn, clarinet
    Cindy COX A Year (US Premiere)
    Scott RUBIN Kerosene Palace (World Premiere)
    Ed CAMPION Work TBD
    DEBUSSY Première rhapsodie
  • Cal Day: Saturday, April 22 – 11am, Hertz Hall, Free
    University Symphony Orchestra
    David Milnes, music director
    William Wang, piano
    Kyle Ko, french horn
    RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No. 2
    GLIÈRE Horn Concerto,
    STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
  • May 5-6, Friday-Saturday 8pm Hertz Hall, $20/16/5
    University Symphony Orchestra
    David Milnes, music director
    Melody Huang, cello
    Jean AHN New Work TBD (World Premiere)
    ELGAR Cello Concerto
    SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 11
     $20 general public,  $16 non-UCB students, seniors, current/retired Berkeley staff & faculty, groups 10+,  $5 UC Berkeley students, children under 12

For more information, see our events calendar

Recent Performances

Past performances