Firstly, congratulations on getting your place at Durham! Below is some important information about the society and how to join it.

If you are left with any questions whatsoever, please get in contact via the links at the bottom of the page or email Laura at


Firstly, congratulations on getting your place at Durham! Below is some important information about the society and how to join it.

If you are left with any questions whatsoever, please get in contact via the links at the bottom of the page or email Emma at

Durham University Orchestral Society is made up of two orchestras: the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra. Each rehearse once per week and perform around two concerts per term, some with each other, others with other music societies within the university. This year, you can expect to perform at The Sage, Gateshead and accompany some extremely talented soloists. You'll also have the opportunity to play some incredible repertoire including pieces by Wagner, Dvořák and Gershwin.

Rehearsals and concerts only make up part of your time as there is also a vibrant social side: we run regular socials, host parties, and put on events like our annual black-tie ball.

We pride ourself on being entirely student-led. This means all of our Executive Committee and Conductors are students at the university. That said, we regularly welcome professionals from institutions such as the Northern Sinfonia and the RNCM who hold masterclasses and sectionals, notably during our week-long course at the end of Easter term known as ‘DUOS Week’. We also benefit from regular masterclasses with professional conductors such as Peter Stark and Richard Dickins.

In addition to all this, each Easter break we go on tour to Europe and in the past have visited Madrid, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Ljubljana, Barcelona and most recently Munich; this year, we’ll be travelling to the Czech capital, Prague.



How do I sign up for an audition? 

To sign up for an audition, you must attend the Experience Durham Fair which takes place during Freshers' Week. Please note that this is not the DSU Freshers’ Fair at the Students’ Union. All the information about the fair you need will provided to you by your college during Freshers’ Week. However, you can keep up to date with information by following our social media pages.

When do auditions take place?

Auditions will take place throughout Freshers' Week. They are held throughout the day so that you can fit them in around the other many activities taking place that week. Once you sign up, we advise that you arrive at the audition venue at least 20 minutes before the scheduled time - this is so that you have sufficient time to warm up and prepare the sight-reading.

What can I expect from the audition?

You should prepare a short, unaccompanied piece for your instrument, lasting no longer than 5 minutes. The piece does not have to be originally written for unaccompanied instrument (for example, a cello sonata with the piano part omitted is perfectly acceptable). You will also receive some sight-reading (typically one or two extracts), for which you will have a short amount of time to prepare. Finally, there will be a relaxed conversation with the panel so that we can get to know you better. We aim to make the audition process as relaxed as possible!

What standard should I be?

As an indication, most players in the orchestra are Grade 8 standard or above. However, don't let this put you off! We don't require applicants to have done any music exams, and we strongly encourage you to audition if you are interested. We also don't require previous ensemble experience. If you have any doubts, talk to one of the exec members at the Freshers' Fair or get in contact with us (see below).

What if I play more than one instrument?

If you play multiple instruments which are substantially different (for example, viola and trumpet), you should audition for each separately, and each application will be considered individually. If you play a main and an auxiliary instrument (for example, flute and piccolo), you should audition only for your main instrument, and bring your auxiliary instrument with you to the audition. You will not need to prepare a solo piece for your auxiliary instrument; however, you may be asked to perform a sight-reading extract on it. Your performance on an auxiliary instrument will not hinder your chances of success on your main instrument - in fact, it is usually considered an asset to play an auxiliary instrument.

How does the audition work for percussionists?

Due to the nature of percussion music, the audition takes a slightly different format. A marimba, snare drum, and four timpani will be provided. You do not need to be able to play all of these instruments (you can audition even if you only play one), but we would expect you to show skill in a range of percussion disciplines. If you wish, you may prepare a short programme of at most 5 minutes' duration across the instruments. You will not be penalised if you do not do this. All percussionists will receive some orchestral percussion sight-reading extracts 20 minutes before the audition.

When do I find out?

Every year, we have a large number of applications to consider, so there may be a small delay before you find out your audition result. Nevertheless, we aim to e-mail all candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, within 48 hours of the end of the audition period. If you are successful, you will receive an e-mail with rehearsal details and desk position in the orchestra. It is important to check your e-mails since the first rehearsal will be on the first Thursday after Freshers' Week for our Symphony orchestra!

What If I'm unsuccessful?

If you are not successful in getting a place in DUOS this year, you should receive an e-mail within 48 hours of the audition period ending. Please don't be upset - it is a very competitive process and you shouldn't be put off trying again next year. Because of the large number of applications and quick deadline, we do not give out audition feedback as a general rule to unsuccessful candidates. If you would like feedback, you should e-mail Emma at

If you have any questions at all, please e-mail Emma at We hope to see you at our auditions, and good luck!