• Orchestra


  • Symphony Orchestra

    The Minnesota State University Moorhead Symphony Orchestra (University Symphony Orchestra) consists of Minnesota State University Moorhead and North Dakota State University students as well as Fargo-Moorhead community members dedicated to learning string and symphonic music from the 18th century to the present by composers of varied nationalities and both genders. The orchestra presents at least four concerts annually, including collaborations with professional soloists, university choral ensembles, and the winner(s) of the annual Student Concerto/Aria Competition.

    We invite all university students who play an orchestral instrument, regardless of major, to audition. We also invite qualified Post Secondary Option students, F-M community members, and collegiate faculty and staff to join us. Past orchestra students have majored in a variety of subjects including music, elementary education, psychology, computer science, engineering, biology, foreign languages, art, nursing, and many other disciplines.

    The most advanced members of the University Symphony Orchestra are encouraged to audition for openings in the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, the region's paying professional orchestra. Students are excused from their university orchestra rehearsals during Fargo-Moorhead Symphony weeks.

    Rehearsals are held on Tuesdays from 7:00-9:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 4:30-6:00 p.m. in the MSUM Roland Dille Center for the Arts, Room 0100. After 4:30 p.m., parking near the building is free (in Lot "C").


    In order to maintain a performance level appropriate for a university ensemble, members of the University Symphony Orchestra must possess sufficient musical independence and instrumental technique to perform standard orchestral repertoire. Those who audition with serious performance deficiencies may be required to concurrently enroll in private lessons on their instrument or be denied admission.


    Individuals interested in joining the University Symphony Orchestra should contact the Music Department 218.477.2101.

    The USO is open to all students, you do NOT have to be a music major to join!

    String Auditions

    Near the beginning of each semester, university string players play an audition for seating placement. The audition may include a prepared piece, scales, and/or sight-reading. Musical considerations such as tone, intonation, rhythm, and technical facility determine the seating. The Music Director will consider previous musical experiences. Community members do not need to audition for chair placement. The Music Director names a principal player in each section. Principal players sit first chair and have additional leadership responsibilities (bowings, fingerings, leading sectionals, etc.).

    Wind & Percussion Auditions

    Wind players and percussionists join the orchestra based upon the recommendation of their respective studio instructor and an audition. After this process, any remaining openings will be made available to other university students not currently in studio, interested community members, or music faculty.

    Annual Concerto/Aria Competition

    A Concerto/Aria Solo Competition is held near the end of the fall semester to identify the finest student soloist(s) and to provide the opportunity of performing with the orchestra on a spring semester concert.

    The competition is open to all MSUM and NDSU junior, senior, and graduate music majors (including double majors) currently in studio. Students who have already won may not compete again. Concerto/Aria Solo Competition Audition Application Forms will be available in the music office by mid-September. Due dates are strictly enforced.

    Adjudicators will rank the auditions on the basis of high performance standards, without regard for instrument or voice. Multiple winners may be named. Likewise, if none of the auditions meets a national standard, the competition may end without a winner.

    MSUM Invitational Orchestra Festival

    The purpose of the MSUM Invitational Orchestra Festival is to encourage the musical growth of area K-12 orchestra programs by providing teachers and students with a unique opportunity for performance and feedback early in the school year. Held in mid-October, each orchestra receives written and recorded comments (no scores or ratings) from two adjudicators. Following the performance, the adjudicators present an in-depth clinic to each group. Additionally, students can participate in an improvisation class led by MSUM performance faculty. National Music Standard 3 emphasizes "improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments." The improvisation class offers hands-on experiences to help traditional orchestra programs meet this standard.

    School orchestras from the Twin Cities, Bismarck, Grand Forks, as well as the Fargo-Moorhead region have participated. Past clinicians include: Michael Hopkins (2009), Marilyn Seelman (2008), David Littrell (2007), Joanne Erwin (2006), and Bob Culver (2005). For more information, including future Festival dates, contact Music Department at 218.477.2101.