Founded in 1904, the orchestra program at the University of Kansas is one of the oldest in the nation. Dean Skilton first assembled a group of music students to form a rudimentary ensemble and the KU Symphony Orchestra (KUSO) has grown during the ensuing 100-years. The KUSO serves the university community and the greater Lawrence area, while reaching out to audiences in nearby cities.
Past Music Directors have included such internationally known figures as Karl Kuersteiner, George Lawner, and Brian Priestman.
The University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra provides performance majors the highest quality preparation for a professional career in orchestral playing. The orchestra serves as a teaching tool for all music majors as they acquire a familiarity with the orchestral repertoire.
Several concerts are performed each season in the magnificent setting of the nationally renowned 2,000-seat Lied Center of Kansas, acknowledged as one of the premier concert halls in the United States. The orchestra also performs in KU Opera productions as well as in University Theatre productions, and collaborates with KU's Division of Choral Music in the presentation of large scale choral and orchestral works and the annual Holiday Vespers concerts.
KU orchestral alumni have gone on to important teaching and performance careers and have appeared as soloists with orchestras throughout the region, as well as nationally. They currently serve on faculties at universities such as Penn Sate University, Mercer University (GA), Harrisburg University (PA), and the University of Utah (Logan). They are members of professional orchestras, such as the Buffalo Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, New Zealand Symphony, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and the Kansas City Symphony