The USD Symphony Orchestra playing.


Experience exceptional performances from a conductor-less chamber orchestra, savor the diverse repertoire of a renowned symphony orchestra and gain valuable pit experience with a nationally-recognized opera company.

USD is proudly home to the largest strings and orchestral studies program in the state of South Dakota with a long-time tradition of excellence, internationally-recognized faculty and exceptional orchestral ensembles. Develop the creative process that will elevate you into an accomplished musician.

The USD Symphonic Orchestra playing on stage with all instruments.

Symphony Orchestra

With roots stretching back to the late 19th century, the University of South Dakota Symphony Orchestra is the largest university orchestral program in South Dakota. Led by internationally recognized faculty, students have access to world-class instruction and the opportunity to study with esteemed musicians, including members of the Rawlins Piano Trio. The symphony orchestra showcases both standard and distinctive repertoire, and welcomes participation from music and non-music majors, community members and advanced high school students.

The USD Symphony Orchestra not only performs canonical works but also champions new compositions by underrepresented composers. The USD Symphony Orchestra has been recognized at the national level in The American Prize - Celebrating Excellence in the Performing Arts, as a finalist for the 2021 Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music and the 2021 Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming.
The chamber orchestra playing on stage.

Chamber Orchestra

The USD Chamber Orchestra is an elite conductor-less strings ensemble with members chosen by audition from the Department of Music and across campus. The concept of performing without a conductor is an innovative approach that creates individual musical responsibility and exact roles in achieving exceptional quality performances. The USD Chamber Orchestra tours the region regularly, performing throughout South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. The group has been selected as a performing ensemble for the South Dakota Music Educators Association Conference and the Iowa Music Educators Association Conference.
A USD student performing opera on stage.

Opera Orchestra

The USD Opera Orchestra is composed of an elite group of strings and wind/percussion performers who are contracted to perform in the pit for the performances of the nationally-recognized University of South Dakota Opera Theater. The USD Opera offers orchestra students the opportunity to learn and study operatic repertoire from the Baroque to the modern times in a professional setting. USD Opera Orchestra take place in the spring semester.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the orchestra. Our faculty are experts in a variety of instruments.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Bethany Amundson

Bethany Amundson

Assistant Professor-Director of Symphonic Bands


Director of Symphonic Bands
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ioana Galu

Ioana Galu

Associate Professor


Violin/Viola Studio, Rawlins Piano Trio
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Holdhusen

David Holdhusen

Chair-Music Dept


Chair, Dept. of Music
Director of Choral Activities
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sonja Kraus

Sonja Kraus

Associate Professor


Cello, String Bass, Rawlins Piano Trio
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sue Sidoti

Sue Sidoti

Music Lessons Adjunct


Violin & Viola

student success story

Success story Nicole Gerdes smiling.
USD offers vibrant social and musical communities on campus including student-led vocal and instrumental ensembles. I was able to travel with the USD Chamber Singers on an international tour to England and France in 2019 and participate in two state tours with the USD Chamber Orchestra.

Nicole Gerdes

B.F.A. Music Performance, Piano '22
Renner, SD

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