UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra

For more than 100 years, the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra (UCBSO) has helped build the University's tradition of excellence.

Background image: A student performing in the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra Information

David Milnes, Conductor

Course Number: Music 141

Rehearsal Schedule: Tuesday & Thursday, 7:30-10:00pm, Hertz Hall

The UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra is one of the premier university ensembles in the nation. Now in its 27th season under Music Director David Milnes, the UCBSO has solidified its reputation as a major force among Bay Area cultural institutions. Established in 1923, the UCBSO performs 15-18 concerts each season, covering the full repertory from the Baroque to the present with a special emphasis on music since the 20th century. The orchestra is a proven breeding ground for future generations of musicians, composers and scholars; its members have gone on to receive graduate degrees at such conservatories as the Juilliard School, the Eastman School of Music, the Peabody Institute, and the Manhattan School of Music, and have subsequently performed with such luminary orchestras as the Concertgebouw, the National Symphony, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, as well as the nation’s top new music ensembles such as Alarm Will Sound, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and Yarn/Wire.

Description and History

The UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra performsEstablished 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. Regular coaching for each section are given by a number of Bay Area professional musicians.


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.


Auditions for UCBSO and Music 168A (private lessons for music majors) 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

Audition Overview

Audition information for all performance opportunities in the Music Department.

Symphony audition requirements.

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 Orchestra Endowment Fund

Daniel Kang performs a solo with the UC Berkeley Symphony OrchestraThe 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.

The UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra