Explore the vast creative range of today's contemporary orchestra through diverse masterworks, new music, groundbreaking guest artists and award-winning programing

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About the Orchestras

The ASU orchestra program provides its members with intensive orchestral training and professional level artistic performance experience. Led by Jeffery Meyer, Director of Orchestras, the orchestras perform challenging and diverse repertoire chosen to help emerging professional musicians develop a wide range of skills and aptitudes. Rich concert programming offers audiences and the greater arts community opportunities to engage with major works of the orchestral canon as well as cutting-edge works of our time. Exploring the full creative range of today’s contemporary orchestral ensemble, the ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Chamber Orchestra seek to perform canonical works with technical excellence and artistry while also pushing musical boundaries through innovative multi-disciplinary collaborations. In 2016, the ASU Philharmonia was added to the orchestral offerings at ASU and provides its members an engaging and vigorous foundational orchestral experience for both music and non-music majors.

The program aims to extend student learning through valuable interactions with professional artists. Recent guest artists include Jorja Fleezanis, Alex Klein, Joseph Alessi and Andrés Cárdenes. ASU faculty are closely involved with their students’ orchestral experience and regularly lead orchestral sectionals. The ASU orchestras also maintain a vibrant relationship with the Phoenix Symphony with frequent guest artist visits in both sectional rehearsals and side-by-side rehearsal contexts.

Guest artists have included renowned faculty performers and other celebrated professional collaborators including:

  • Violinists Jorja Fleezanis, Andrés Cárdenes, Glenn Dicterow, Szymon Goldberg, Dylana Jenson, Ani Kavafian and Edvard Melkus
  • Cellists Colin Carr, Stephen Kates and Lazlo-Varga
  • Pianists André Watts, Ursula Oppens, Jeffrey Siegel, Victor Borge
  • Guitarist Manuel Lopez Ramos
  • Singers Jubilant Sykes, Faye Robinson, Anna Christy, Isola Jones
  • Conductors Carl St.Clair, Tito Muñoz, Lukas Foss, Vincent Persichetti, Karina Canellakis
  • Composers Joan Tower, Phillip Glass, Gunther Schuller, and PDQ Bach

The orchestral program at ASU has a long tradition of artistic excellence and performances by the ASU Orchestras are regularly recorded for future radio and video broadcast. Much of the world's greatest symphonic literature has been performed by the ASU Orchestras, including Richard Strauss' Don Quixote, Death and Transfiguration, Four Last Songs and Til Eulenspiegel, as well as symphonies by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. The orchestra has also performed such virtuoso showpieces as Respighi's Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals; Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol, Scheherazade and Russian Easter; Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis and Mathis der Maler; Holst's The Planets; and Stravinsky's ballets the Firebird, Petruschka and Rite of Spring. In recent seasons the ASU Orchestras have premiered over a dozen new works and have become national leaders in terms of innovative programing that expands what the symphonic experience can be. The ASU Orchestras aim to provide creative outlet and access for a deep variety of voices including underrepresented composers and performers and reach an ever-increasing and diverse audience.

The ASU Orchestras collaborate with the ASU Choirs on a regular bases performing large scale choral orchestra works including Bernstein Chichester Psalms, Brahms Requiem, Orff Carmina Burana and Mahler Symphony No. 2. Most recently in honor of the Bernstein Centenary the ASU Symphony Orchestra presented a fully-staged production of Bernstein Mass featuring Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant and bringing together over 300 performers and collaborators including the ASU Choral and Music Theatre and Opera programs, the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Phoenix Boys’ Choir in one of the largest scale interdisciplinary collaborations ever seen in Arizona.

In 2010, the Herberger Institute School of Music launched its innovative ensemble program; students currently pursue an individually tailored curriculum of ensemble studies working with a variety of faculty and guest conductors. Former members of the ASU orchestras are now performing in many of this country's finest symphony orchestras including those in Phoenix, Detroit, Indianapolis, Rochester, Minnesota and Cleveland, as well as the Metropolitan Opera.

Founded by Miles Dresskell, the ASU Symphony and Chamber orchestras have been led by former directors Eugene Lombardi, Henry Charles Smith, Timothy Russell.

Listen and Watch

Towards a More Perfect UnionAn ASU Gammage and ASU Symphony theatrical, symphonic concert—with film, song, and spoken word—highlighting new works and powerful compositions that speak to the challenges of our time.

Harp of NervesJIJI performs Harp of Nerves (guitar concerto by Hilary Purrington) with the ASU Symphony Orchestra, 2019-20 season.


Don JuanThe ASU Symphony Orchestra opens the 2018-19 with Strauss’s explosive tone poem Don Juan, which launched him to international fame when he was only 25 years old.

Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)The ASU Symphony Orchestra performs Missy Mazzoli's "Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), March 2020, Ikeda Theater, Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ.


Orchestral opportunities

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ASU student playing violin in front of sheet music

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