The Penn State orchestral program has grown considerably and has become one of the leading programs in the area. Recent performances include venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh. The repertoire ranges from the early classical to twenty-first century composers, including several premieres. The Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras have traveled abroad to perform in festivals with great success.
Committed to providing outstanding musical and educational opportunities for all instrumentalists, the orchestral program includes three ensembles. The Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra are conducted by the Director of Orchestral Studies and the Campus Orchestra, a mostly non-major ensemble designed for students who wish to continue playing their instruments and develop their musicianship, is conducted by graduate assistants in the M.M.-orchestral conducting program.
The orchestras at Penn State are open to all University Park campus students and auditions for Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra take place during the first week of classes. An audition is not required for string players to participate in Campus Orchestra, but students must demonstrate that they are capable to perform the repertoire selected. Due to the limited number of winds and percussion needed for this ensemble, an audition it is required. Participants receive one academic credit per semester for each orchestra. These credits fulfill General Arts in many colleges and majors.