Audition Information

Auditions for membership in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra (MUSIC 160/160Z) and Stanford Philharmonia (MUSIC 160A/160AZ) will take place in person at the Braun Music Center from 13-19 September 2021 for most instruments, with harp and percussion auditions at Bing Concert Hall at times TBA. All new and returning members will be required to audition. Anyone interested in joining SSO and/or SP in 2021-22 is asked to fill out the Orchestra Participation Form and sign up for an audition time on the Audition Sign-ups.

All students who audition may be asked to play scales and sight-reading, and should prepare the excerpts for their instrument unless they’re a new student at Stanford (first-year, transfer, or graduate student), in which case they’re encouraged but not required to prepare the excerpts. Anyone who hasn’t auditioned previously for SSO or SP in person is required to play a solo piece at their audition (2-3 minutes; it can be an excerpt). Sophomores who auditioned over Zoom in 2020-21 but not in person should prepare a solo piece and the excerpts. Students who have previously auditioned in person for SSO or SP, and played in either of those orchestras, will not be asked to play a prepared solo – just the excerpts, sight-reading, and scales.

Anyone auditioning on more than one instrument (i.e. flute and piccolo; oboe and English horn; violin and piano; etc.) should sign up for one audition slot in which both instruments will be heard. If a student plays a secondary instrument (like English horn or bass clarinet) but does not own it, they are encouraged to contact Herb Myers, Stanford’s Curator of Instruments, at <> to borrow that instrument and audition on it in addition to auditioning on their primary instrument.

All returning violinists are required to play audition excerpts 1A and 2A and encouraged to play 1B and 2B. Returning violinists who choose not to play excerpts 1B and 2B will be considered for Violin II only.

About 100-110 members will be accepted into SSO and about 40-45 into SP. SSO will include all standard orchestral instruments – strings, woodwinds, brass, timpani, percussion, harp, and keyboard. SP is a chamber orchestra that will comprise strings, woodwinds (fl, ob, cl, bn), horns, trumpets, timpani, percussion, harp, and keyboard. The vast majority of orchestra members play in SSO or SP, not both. However, in some cases, students may be allowed to play in SSO and SP during the same quarter; typically, there are about five students per quarter who do so.

Rosters will be announced by 20 or 21 September. The first rehearsal of SSO will take place in Bing Concert Hall on Monday, 20 September (or possibly Thursday, 24 September). The first rehearsal of SP will take place in Bing Studio on Tuesday, 21 September.


1) Solo piece. A work of your choice that displays your best playing such as an etude; a movement of a suite, partita, sonata, or concerto; or orchestral excerpts. Length: 2-3 minutes. A second contrasting piece is not required, but might be heard in the audition if time allows. Note: The solo piece is required for anyone who has not been a member of SSO or SP before. Returning members do not have to prepare a solo piece and will only be expected to complete steps 2-4 of the audition.

2) Excerpt for your instrument. Required of all returning SSO and SP members. Recommended but not required for new students and anyone who has not auditioned previously for SSO or SP.

3) Scales. Play scales in the way you’ve prepared them with your private teacher or learned them at school. While there is no set requirement as to which ones you should know, knowing all the major scales is desirable, and knowing majors and minors is optimal.

4) Sight-reading. A sight-reading excerpt will be provided at the audition.

The audition will last about 10 minutes.

Music majors and non-music majors are treated the same in the auditions, with non-music majors having the same chance of being admitted to SSO and/or SP as music majors.

Any questions about auditions may be addressed to Professor Paul Phillips at