Frequently Asked Questions:
How big is the William & Mary Symphony Orchestra?
We are a full symphony orchestra that can be as large as 80 members.
What is the time commitment, and can you get credit for playing?
The WMSO rehearses every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00pm throughout each semester and performs five concerts per year. Once you are accepted, you will be able to register for it as a one-credit class in the Music Department that also fulfills GER 6. We maintain a collegiate but professional atmosphere during rehearsals, starting and ending them on time. Our music director emails a detailed rehearsal schedule for each upcoming week so that we know exactly what time a certain piece will be rehearsed. Additionally, the WMSO goes on tour once every calendar year in the spring.
Where does WMSO rehearse and perform?
Rehearsals are held in Ewell Hall, the home of the W&M music department. The orchestra performs its Fall, Winter and Spring concerts in the Phi Beta Kappa Auditorium. The annual Halloween Concert, a lighter and more interactive event, is in the Commonwealth Auditorium in the Sadler Center, and the Family Weekend Concert, a prism-style concert shared with the choirs and wind ensemble, is held in William & Mary Hall (Kaplan Arena).
Does WMSO travel?
Yes! In 2001, WMSO went on its first international tour to Italy and Sicily. More recently, the WMSO has toured in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. In April 2015, we performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. We will be traveling to France in Spring of 2017.
What does WMSO play?
You can see everything we’ve played in the past several seasons here. Our repertoire draws mainly from the 19th-20th century Western tradition but also expands to the present. We often collaborate with professional guest artists to perform concerti, including violinist Charles Castleman (Carmen Fantasy), violinist Pavel Ilyashov (Glazunov), cellist Neal Cary (Elgar), and saxophonist Gary Louie (April 2015). Last but not least, WMSO hosts an annual concerto competition for undergraduates who study with our Applied Faculty. The winner performs with WMSO in March.
How competitive is it to get in, and how are parts & seating assigned?
Much of it depends on what instrument you play. While every single member must re-audition each fall to remain in the group, it is rare that a returning member is not invited back. This is less of an issue for strings, but for winds and percussion, the number of openings can range from zero to a full section depending on the year. We just don’t know until the sign-ups begin in August, so don’t let this discourage you from auditioning or preparing over the summer to do so. Our music director often calls on alternate players to replace a regular member studying abroad or to add another player if a work calls for a larger instrumentation than usual. Typically, the alternates usually end up being accepted as regular members the following season, so an audition is a great way to be heard and added to the list of potential musicians for your section. Our music director determines the rotation for each concert cycle including part assignments for winds and percussion and seating order for strings.
How do I audition?
Auditions are held in late August in Ewell Recital Hall, starting a few days before the first week of classes. You can find out the specific dates and the requirements here. Sign-up sheets will become available on the orchestra’s bulletin board on the 2nd floor of Ewell Hall the week prior to the auditions. Time slots are selected on a first-come, first-served basis.
Is there more to WMSO than just music-making?
Yes! While WMSO is led by a professional conductor, many of the operational aspects of the orchestra are executed by the all-student Orchestra Board. Orchestra members have opportunities to attend social events outside of rehearsal, bond over meals, and even play intramural sports together, among other things. The WMSO experience is responsible for many great friendships among students of all academic years, majors, and backgrounds.