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University Symphony Orchestra Spring Tour

The Florida State University College of Music is excited to announce the University Symphony Orchestra’s 2023 southern tour, March 6-10, 2023.

For the first time in decades, the USO is leaving Tallahassee. 78 students, as well as faculty violinist Shannon Thomas, will perform for audiences in southern and central Florida before embarking for the Dominican Republic – the ensemble’s first-ever international performance.

Featured works for the tour include Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and Violin Concerto No. 2 (feat. Shannon Thomas) by Florence Price, the first African American woman to have a work performed by a major American symphony orchestra.

Although the program will remain the same throughout the tour, the performance venues vary widely, from the Riverview High School Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, FL to the relatively new Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts in Orlando, FL (considered to be one of the finest performance venues in the US) and the Gran Teatro del Cibao in Santiago, one of two national theaters in the Dominican Republic.

All performances along the tour will be free and open to the public.

Audiences fortunate enough to attend these concerts are in for a rare treat.

“Established in 1926, the USO is considered one of the country’s leading university orchestras,” explains Alexander Jiménez, music director and conductor of the ensemble since 2005 and on the FSU faculty since 2000. “The USO has recorded under major labels such as Naxos and Koch and has performed with internationally acclaimed conductors and soloists throughout its long and illustrious history.”

“By any measure,” Jiménez continues, “the USO is a professional level orchestra that performs with passion and a deep love for its audiences.”

This is a second attempt to take the USO abroad – the orchestra’s initial attempt in the spring of 2020 was forced to a halt due to the COVID outbreak.

“High-profile performance tours have become signature events for the College of Music,” says Greg Jones, Associate Dean for Outreach and Engagement in the College of Music. “Each of which showcases the sophisticated collaboration between students from diverse backgrounds and highlights the unique community of music at FSU.”

“The opportunity to include an international residency within this particular tour is truly exceptional and will be of great benefit to our students, faculty, and partners in the Dominican Republic,” concludes Jones.

Organizing the orchestra tour was a years-long process made possible not only by the generosity of Florida State University and the College of Music, but also the hard work and initiative of students such as Rebeca Masalles. Masalles, a senior violin performance major from the Dominican Republic, is proud of her work with the USO and deeply desired to share her USO experience with her homeland.

“For me, it is a dream come true to be able to perform as a member of the USO in my home country,” says Masalles. “This will be a huge opportunity to inspire a community of young musicians and to share the gift of good music with an entire nation that needs it.”

In addition to their public performance at the Gran Teatro del Cibao on March 10, the USO will also present a children’s concert and performances by USO students to select audiences during their stay in Santo Domingo.

“Tours offer so much for student ensembles like the USO,” says Jiménez. “In addition to the rigor of traveling and performing together in a variety of venues, tours like this one offer a fantastic cultural and educational experience and creates cultural and academic bridges between countries. The students in the USO will never forget this experience.”

Tallahassee audiences will not miss out on this exceptional program. Prior to departure, the USO will present a preview performance in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall on Saturday, February 25 at 7:30 PM. This performance, which will also include Fabian Rao’s Embrujao (Enchanted) for Strings, is part of the UMA Concert Series. Tickets for this performance range from $10 to $7, and are free for FSU students with ID.



FSU College of Music Preview Concert (Ticketed)
Ruby Diamond Concert Hall | 7:30 PM
Riverview High School Performing Arts Center (Free)
1 Ram Way, Sarasota, FL | 7:30 PM  

Steinmetz Hall (Free, but tickets required)
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts | 7:30 PM
445 S Magnolia Ave. Orlando, FL
Gran Teatro del Cibao (Free, but tickets required)
Santiago, Dominican Republic | 8:30 PM

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