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The University Symphony Orchestra with conductor Alexander Jiménez, October 2022

The Florida State University Orchestras have enjoyed a long and illustrious history

Throughout the years, the USO has been under the batons of such luminary conductors as Ernst von Dohnanyi, Aaron Copland, Richard Burgin, Michael Stern, Robert Spano, and Matthias Bamert. The many guest artists who have performed with the USO over the years have included Dohnanyi, Lauritz Melchior, Joshua Bell, Denyce Graves, Lynn Harrell, Dr. Billy Taylor, the Canadian Brass, Nexus, and André Watts, among others. Among the many composers who have worked with the university orchestras are Aaron Copland, Krzysztof Penderecki, Martin Bresnick, Christopher Theofanidis, Ladislav Kubik, John Harbison, Michael Torke, Chen Yi, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

The USO may be heard on the Naxos, Neos, and Koch labels. In 2001 the USO recorded works of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich on the Koch label with the Kalichstein/Laredo/Robinson Trio, and in 2007 the orchestra was featured on the PBS broadcast of Zwilich’s Peanuts Gallery, a production that was awarded Best Performance of 2007 by the National Educational Television Association. In 2010 Naxos released Millennium Fantasy, a compact disc featuring works of Zwilich performed by the USO under the direction of Dr. Jiménez. In 2002 the University Philharmonia performed the world premiere of Jeff Beal’s score to accompany the silent film, The General, a score commissioned for the Philharmonia.

Students receive a dynamic musical experience characterized by high standards, collegiality, and a sense of purpose and service to the community. The program also seeks to redefine the relationship between conductor and orchestra musician and to build a working environment based on mutual trust, respect, and shared ideals. The FSU Orchestras enjoy a strong following in our university community, as well as in the local and regional communities. 

Orchestra Faculty

Alexander Jiménez

  • Professor of Conducting
  • Director of Orchestral Activities
  • String Area Coordinator

Pamela Ryan

  • Professor of Viola

Greg Sauer

  • Professor of Cello

George Speed

  • Associate Professor of Double Bass

Corinne Stillwell

  • Associate Professor of Violin

Ben Sung

  • Associate Professor of Violin

Shannon Thomas

  • Associate Professor of Violin

Noël Wan

  • Assistant Professor of Harp and Entrepreneurship
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One of the premiere ensembles in the College of Music, the USO is comprised of graduate and upper division undergraduate students. The USO rehearses Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-6:30 p.m., and Wednesdays from 7:00-9:00 p.m. as needed. The USO gives seven to eight concerts each season, including opera, chamber orchestra performances, and performances of major choral works. The USO works with faculty and guest soloists, and accompanies the winner of the Doctoral Concerto Competition. The following ensembles are derived from the USO:

  • University Opera Orchestra

The University Symphony Orchestra is the orchestra for the fall and spring opera productions given by Florida State Opera. The operas are led by Douglas Fisher, director of opera.

  • Members of the USO

The most experienced members of the USO are selected to perform repertoire for chamber orchestra.


The University Philharmonia is comprised exclusively of undergraduate students. All freshman and sophomore string players are required to play in the Philharmonia before being eligible to audition for the USO. The Philharmonia rehearses Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00-6:30 p.m. and gives four concerts per season. The Philharmonia accompanies faculty soloists and the winner of the Young Artist Competition.

SINFONIA (MUN2210-0002; MUN4213-0003; MUN5215-0002)

Sinfonia offers non-major musicians from throughout our campus the opportunity to play in an orchestra. Sinfonia rehearses on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and gives one concert per semester. There is no audition for membership. Note: Sinfonia does not qualify for major ensemble credit for music majors.