"Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same." - Franz Schubert

conductor and orchestra standing up after a performance

The Duke Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has consistently recruited over 80-100 members each year, composed of musicians from the Duke student body (primarily undergraduates) and the surrounding university community. Under the direction of conductor Harry Davidson, the DSO seeks to create a dynamic and enlivening environment for concertgoers and performers alike. 

Members of the orchestra committee, a small group of elected students, endeavor to build and foster a greater sense of community among members of the orchestra and their peers who share a passion for music. The orchestra committee seeks to diversify Duke's musical community through the organization and publicizing of performances open to the public, as well as hosting orchestra-related social activities.

The orchestra's repertoire ranges from the seventeenth to the twentieth century and includes both well-known masterpieces and rarely-heard works. The DSO rehearses twice a week and hosts four regular season concerts in Baldwin Auditorium annually, averaging over 100 audience attendees at each concert. In addition, the orchestra can be seen performing at other university events, such as for the Parents' and Family Weekend Concert in Duke Chapel. The DSO features the student winner of the DSO Concerto Competition every spring and also performs a semi-staged opera biannually.

For the past ten years, the Duke Symphony has started its concert season with a special student-run pops concert held on East Campus Quad, which has evolved to become a Labor Day weekend tradition in Durham. This lighthearted event is performed after only one extensive Saturday rehearsal. As the DSO's first event of the year, the pops concert provides an intimate setting for introducing new members to the orchestra. All arrangements are coordinated by the DSO committee. By holding the event on East Campus, it also serves as a way for the symphony to welcome first-year students to East Campus life.

Each spring, the Duke Symphony Orchestra travels to Beaufort, South Carolina to perform a benefit concert. Between 2004 and 2017, this event raised more than $250,000 for Beaufort Memorial Hospital's Keyserling Cancer Center. Now, the Duke Symphony Orchestra performs this benefit concert in partnership with the Foundation for Leadership Education to promote programs that support leadership education and community in the South Carolina Lowcountry.



All photos courtesy of Melanie Park.

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