orchestra picSymphony Orchestra

The University Symphony Orchestra presents a rich diversity of orchestral, operatic, and orchestral-choral repertoire.  Music directors in the 2016-17 season include Sarah Jones-Hayes, Fred Cohen, Yair Samet, and Jeffrey Benson.  The Symphony Orchestra is comprised of student instrumentalists, a majority of whom are music majors, and is open for membership by audition for students across the University as well as community volunteers.

Music majors focusing on string performance must participate in Symphony Orchestra as their major ensemble.  Auditions take place the two days before classes begin each semester.

The core repertoire of the Orchestra spans a broad range of eras and styles.  In the 2016-17 season the Orchestra will present works including Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah, Joan Tower's Made in American (with the composer in attendance), Dvorak Symphony No. 8, Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and accompaniment for student concerto winners.

The mission of the orchestra is to deliver an outstanding music education for our students, and to perform at the highest level with passion, energy, and commitment.

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Fall 2016 repertoire and concert dates:


CONCERT ONE:  Wednesday, October 18, 2016 7:30   Concert Hall      

Conductor:  Dr. Sarah Jones-Hayes arrived at SJSU in fall 2106 as Assistant Professor of Music/Strings.  Dr. Jones-Hayes received her DMA in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan, and her BM and MM in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Her principal teachers include David Halen and David Updegraff, among others.  Dr. Jone-Hayes has taught at Arkansas State University, Wayne State University, Cleveland Institute Preparatory Division, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Works for String Orchestra

CONCERT TWO:  Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016  7:30  Hammer Theater

Conductor: Sarah-Jones-Hayes

Selection for string orchestra from first concert; participation in Kaleidoscope program.


CONCERT THREE:  Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016  7:30 PM  Concert Hall  

Conductor:  Fred Cohen

Joan Tower Made in America                   

Guest composer:  Joan Tower


CONCERT FOUR:  Thursday, December 1, 2016  7:30 PM  Concert Hall  

Conductor:  Fred Cohen

Mahler, Ruckert Songs, with Joci-Patrice Houston, vocalist

Emmanuel Séjourné Concerto for Marimba and Strings, with John Gilchrist, marinba

Antonin Dvorak, Symphony No.8    


Fred Cohen is the Director of the School of Music and Dance at SJSU.  He served as Music Director and Conductor of the University of Richmond Orchestra from 1986-2002, the Montclair State University Orchestra 2004-5, and the Schwob School of Music Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008-2010. He served as the founder and director of CURRENTS, a professional new-music ensemble in Richmond (1986-2002) and the Cornell Contemporary Ensemble (1982-1986), commissioning and premiering over 60 works by composers from around the world. Guest conducting appearances include the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Williamsburg Sinfonietta, American Opera Projects, Greenwich House Players, Relache, and many other orchestras and ensembles.


CONCERT FIVE:  Friday, March 10, 2017  7:30PM  Concert Hall

Conductor: Yair Samet

Mozart, Overture to Impresario

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto                          
                       Dr. Sarah Jones-Hayes   solo violin

Beethoven, Symphony No. 1


Yair Samet has conducted the famed Sinfonia Varsovia on tour in Germany, the Belgrade Philharmonic in Serbia, the Saarländisches Staatsorchester in Saarbrücken, Germany, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in China, and the Sarajevo Philharmonic in Bosnia. In Israel he conducted the Haifa Symphony, the Rishon Le-Zion Symphony Orchestra, and the Israel Sinfonietta. He has conducted performances in the Rudolfinum Concert Hall in Prague, the Mozarteum Hall in Salzburg, the National Symphony Hall in Dublin, Teatro el Círculo in Rosario, Argentina, the Granada International Music Festival in Spain, among many other performances world-wide.  In addition, he conducted the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Glinka Capella at Finland’s Tampere International Music Festival. 

Maestro Samet was appointed first associate conductor of the San Jose Symphony Orchestra in 1994. In addition, he was nominated Music Director and Conductor of the San Jose Youth Symphony, with whom he has toured Europe, South America and the Far East. Mr. Samet completed his graduate studies in Orchestral and Operatic conducting and composition in the United States at Indiana University.

CONCERT SIX:    Fri/Sat, May 12-13, 2017  Hammer Theater

SJSU Orchestra and Choral Ensembles

Mendelssohn Elijah  (semi-staged production)

Conductors:  Fred Cohen, Jeffrey Benson