The Ensemble

The UNC Symphony Orchestra is a 100-member ensemble that rehearses Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm throughout the academic year and performs two major concerts each semester. Enrollment is open by audition to the entire UNC community—music majors, minors, non-majors, graduate students, and recent graduates.

The UNCSO was honored to be named the 2012 first-place winner of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance—College/University Division, for the video of their live performance of the Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances.

Led by its Music Director and Conductor, Tonu Kalam, the orchestra often presents faculty and student musicians as concerto soloists and has regularly collaborated with UNC opera and choral ensembles, including recent full productions of Britten’s War Requiem, Orff’s Carmina BuranaMozart’s Così fan tutte, and Brahms’ German Requiem.

Major standard orchestral works performed in past years have included Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 2, 5, 6, 7 and 9, all four Brahms Symphonies, Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies Nos. 2, 3 and 5, Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique and Harold in Italy, Mussorgsky-Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, Respighi’s Pines of Rome, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, suites from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Dvořák’s Symphonies Nos. 5, 8 and 9, Shostakovich’s Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 and 9, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1, Saint-Saëns’ “Organ” Symphony, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration.

The UNCSO has also performed numerous works by significant twentieth- and twenty-first-century composers, including Barber, Copland, Bernstein, Hanson, Schuman, Hovhaness, Hindemith, Britten, Walton, Bloch, Milhaud, Poulenc, Khachaturian, Christopher Rouse, John Harbison, Jennifer Higdon, Christopher Theofanidis, Michael Torke, Arvo Pärt, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Peter Lieberson, Michael Gandolfi, Robert Moran, Tomas Svoboda, Hilary Tann, Lowell Liebermann, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and John Corigliano, as well as UNC faculty composers Allen Anderson, Roger Hannay, Lynn Glassock, Ingrid Arauco, and Stephen Anderson.

Many of the orchestra’s recent concert performances are available for viewing on YouTube by searching for “UNC Symphony Orchestra.”

Audition Information

Auditions for the orchestra will be held beginning Monday of the first week of classes in August. Information will be posted on the Music Department bulletin boards in the Kenan Music Building and Hill Hall. Returning orchestra members must reaudition each year for seating placement.

The string audition will consist of two brief solos of your choice—one slow/melodic, one fast/technical—and a three-octave scale.

Wind/brass/percussion audition requirements and excerpts will be posted online at

String auditions will be held in Prof. Kalam’s office, Kenan Music Building Room 3123. Wind/brass/percussion audition locations will be posted on the UNC Bands website.

Everyone interested in the orchestra, including new and returning players, must attend the first meeting on Wednesday, August 19 at 7:00 pm in Kenan Music Building Room 1201, even if you have not yet auditioned.

Player Information Form and Audition Signups

Prior to auditioning, all prospective and returning orchestra members must fill out and submit the Player Information Form accessed by clicking the following link:

Fall Auditions

  • Wind/brass/percussion players must sign up for an audition time online by following the links at
  • String players must sign up for an audition time online by clicking the following link, which will not be activated until the second week in August:

Spring Auditions

Players interested in joining the orchestra beginning in the spring semester must contact Prof. Kalam directly to arrange an audition time prior to the holiday break in December.

If you have any questions or desire more information about the orchestra program, please email Prof. Kalam at



UNC Symphony Orchestra – Khachaturian, Adagio from Spartacus