The University of Oslo Symphony Orchestra (USO), formerly named The Student Orchestra, celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2017. The origins of the orchestra and its connection to the university, however, can be traced as far back as the 1830s. Since 1946 the orchestra has been officially affiliated with the University of Oslo, with a duty to contribute regularly at academic events. In 1988 the name was changed, and the orchestra was allowed to use the University’s historic Festival Hall (Universitetets Aula) as premises for rehearsals.

Harald Brager-Nielsen was the orchestra’s chief conductor from 1926 to 1968, and developed the ensemble into a full-size symphony orchestra. Brager-Nielsen was succeeded by the conductors Sverre Bruland (1968–78), Alan Suttie (1978–84), Dag Nilssen (1984–91), and Angus Straton Christie (1991–99). Since 2001 the responsibility for the orchestra’s development has been given to an artistic leader, while guest conductors are regularly invited for individual projects. Eldar Nilsen served as USO’s artistic leader until 2006, when Cathrine Winnes took over this function followed by Håkon Daniel Nystedt 2014–2017. From August 2017 Kjell Seim is engaged as artistic leader for USO.

The orchestra gives three to five major concerts per year in the University Aula or in Lindemansalen at NMH, in addition to regular performances at various ceremonies of the University of Oslo. The full-size orchestra includes up to 90 musicians. Many of our members are current and former students and employees of the University of Oslo, while other enthusiastic amateurs of all ages complete the orchestra. Go to konserter to find information about our concerts.


USO welcomes new members! Note, however, that all instruction is given in Norwegian; therefore you should have a fair level of understanding of the spoken language before joining. There is always room for string players, and we are in particular need of violas and double basses. On the winds side the needs vary, but you are always welcome to contact us to see if there is room for you. Right now we are looking to recruit some oboe players. USO keeps a list of substitutes who are invited to join projects when the regular members are not able to participate or when we need extra musicians.

Should you wish to join us, please send an email to uso.post@gmail.com and tell us about your orchestra experience and why you would like to play with USO. You can also stop by during our weekly rehearsals. Most often we have our rehearsals in the University Aula by Nationaltheatret. Go to our front page to see the repertoire we are playing at the moment.

The membership fee is 1250 kr per semester. Students and senior citizens pay 550 kr. Included in the membership is a very favourable instrument insurance through NASOL, the Association of Norwegian Symphony Orchestras. The first six months after you join the orchestra, the membership fee is optional (but the insurance is valid only if you pay). We regard this a mutual trial period. The orchestra can assess your musical skills, and you get a chance to see if you like it here. We practice auditions on all instruments. Looking forward to meeting you! 😄