Senior Symphony Orchestra

For students completing grades 8-12

Designed for senior high students who play string, wind, and percussion instruments, the primary focus of this program is developing the finest orchestral ensemble experience and individual artistry. Classes include full ensemble rehearsals complemented by sectionals, technique classes and an elective.

Selected woodwind, brass, and percussion students will be assigned to the Senior Orchestra in place of Senior Band based on placement auditions on the first day. Woodwinds, brass and percussion players should register for Senior Band, but will be asked to give their preference at the audition. The audition material is the same whether auditioning for placement into Senior Orchestra or to one of the two concert bands.

String Chamber Music

Violin, viola, and cello students participating in Senior Orchestra are offered the additional opportunity to participate in the String Chamber institute as part of the Senior Orchestra program for 2019. The University of Illinois Artists in Residence, The Jupiter Quartet, will coach string chamber groups for this program.

For students accepted in String Chamber Music, the schedule will be altered. String Chamber groups will rehearse and coach during the last two hours of the day in place of technique classes and the regular ISYM elective. Established (pre-formed) chamber groups of at least three musicians are encouraged; however, all interested string players can apply.

Application Instructions:

  1. Complete the ISYM Application. Choose String Chamber Music as your first choice of elective.

  2. Please fill out this form. Audio or video is acceptable and your recording should contain 2 contrasting selections of your choice. Applications will be reviewed no later than May 21. And on a rolling basis after that.

Applications from pre-formed groups are encouraged. Pre-formed group members should apply separately and then email isym@illinois.edu to indicate the members of the group. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and priority will be given to groups who apply by May 21.

Placement Recordings

This recording you send in will be used for both acceptance and also placement into groups within the program. String chamber students WILL still have an audition the first day of ISYM for placement in the ISYM Senior Orchestra. You can find ISYM Senior Orchestra String Audition requirements here. For more information on submitting your recording, refer to the String Chamber Welcome Letter.


Here is what a typical day will look like:

  • 8:15- 9:15 am: ISYM Orchestra Rehearsal
  • 9:30- 10:30 am: ISYM Orchestra Rehearsal
  • 10:45- 11:45 am: ISYM Orchestra Sectional
  • Noon- 1:15 pm: lunch
  • 1:15- 2:15 pm: ISYM Orchestra Rehearsal
  • 2:30- 3:30 pm: Orchestra Master Class (or String Chamber coaching/Rehearsal)
  • 3:45-4:45 pm: ISYM Elective (or String Chamber coaching/Rehearsal)
  • 5:15 pm: Dinner and evening activities
  • 10:30 pm- lights out

Click Here for Program Costs

Symphony Orchestra Conductor
Donald Schleicher, The University of Illinois

Now celebrating his 21st season as Music Director and Conductor of the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, American conductor Donald Schleicher has also served as Music Director of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and as Music Director and Principal Conductor for the Pine Mountain Music Festival.

Schleicher has conducted the National Philharmonic of the Ukraine, the Guiyang (China) Symphony, the Gwangju (South Korea) Symphony, the Inchon (South Korea) Philharmonic, the Daegu (South Korea) Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Filarmonica de la UNAM of Mexico City, the South Dakota Symphony, and the orchestras of Bridgeport, Tallahassee, and Lansing. He has also appeared as a guest conductor at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Detroit. In 2015, he returned to the PMMF to lead the festival’s 25th Anniversary Season by conducting their production of “The Barber of Seville” as well as leading the PMMF Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s monumental “Symphony No. 9.”  In 2016, he will guest conduct the Nairobi Orchestra in Kenya.

Read more about Professor Schleicher here.