Information for Prospective Students

Will I be able to play in the Symphony Orchestra or the Philharmonic Orchestra if I am a non-major?

Absolutely! The orchestras are open to all students by audition. Both orchestras are made up of music and non-music majors. 

What is the audition process?

All students (new and returning) who are interested in participating in the orchestras must audition. Generally, students audition in the fall the weekend before classes begin. Please see this link for audition information. Students should prepare a solo pieces or an excerpt of a solo piece that is about five minutes, two octaves of major scales up to three sharps and three flats for first year students or three octaves for returning students, and designated orchestra excerpts. Students will also be expected to do short sight-reading excerpts at the audition.

Will I qualify for music scholarships if I do not intend to be a music major?

Yes! There are different music scholarships available to Gustavus students interested in continuing their musical education. One of our most prominent music scholarships is the Jussi Bjorling Music scholarship ranging from $1000 to $8000 per school year. These scholarships are not exclusive to music majors but open to all talented students. For more information and to apply for the Björling music scholarship, click here.

Does the Symphony Orchestra tour every year?

The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra (GSO) tours every year regionally or nationally, and internationally once every four years. For the 2022-23 school year, the Symphony Orchestra will be touring nationally during the Spring Break to southern California. Past international tours include South Africa in 2012, Greece and Macedonia in January of 2016, and Singapore and Malaysia in 2020. 

How many students are in the orchestras?

The Philharmonic Orchestra is an all strings orchestra, and ranges from 25-35 students. The Symphony Orchestra includes full woodwind, brass, and percussion section and ranges from 60-75 students. 

When do the orchestras rehearse?

The Philharmonic Orchestra rehearses on Wednesdays evenings from 5:15-7:45 PM. The Symphony Orchestra rehearses from 6:30-8:20 PM on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with a string sectional on Wednesday evenings from 7:00-8:00 PM.

What kind of repertoire does each orchestra play?

Since the Philharmonic Orchestra is an all strings orchestra, this ensemble mostly performs string orchestra repertoire from the Baroque, early Classical, and some Twentieth-Century compositions. Sometimes there are additional woodwinds and brass that will join the ensemble to perform certain pieces. The Symphony Orchestra performs a diverse repertoire for full orchestra from the classical, romantic, twentieth century, and now the the twenty-first century.

How often do the orchestras perform?

The Symphony Orchestra performs in early fall as part of the Family Weekend Music Showcase with other ensembles from the department, a full Symphony Orchestra Concert in late fall, and finishes the semester with performances as part of Christmas in Christ Chapel. In the Spring, the Symphony Orchestra will usually perform two full concerts where the last concert will feature winners of the Music Department Concerto/Aria Competition. The Philharmonic Orchestra performs one concert, and one chapel service per semester.

When I am on campus, can I come and observe the orchestras?

We can do better than that! If you let us know when you are coming, we would love for you to come and play with us during one of our rehearsals. You could meet fellow musicians in the orchestra and get an idea of who we are as an ensemble and as individuals.

If I do not own my instrument, would it be possible to rent one from the college?

Yes! We have a variety of school instruments that you could rent. Please contact the Instrumental Music Assistants for more information.

Will I be able to participate in multiple ensembles?

Depending on the rehearsal schedule of the ensembles you chose to participate, it is possible to participate in orchestra and one of the choral ensembles, and or one of the wind ensembles.

Will I be able to participate in athletics and music?

There are some students who participate in the orchestra and in certain athletic activities. When there are scheduling conflicts, a compromise is usually worked out between the music and athletic departments.

Have more questions?

Please contact Dr. Justin Knoepfel by email or phone.
Dr. Justin Knoepfel
Director of Symphony Orchestra