The Orchestra has humble beginnings traced back to the 1920s, where it started as a Chamber Ensemble. In 1979, under the auspices of the former University of Singapore and the directorship of Mr Paul Abisheganaden, the NUS Concert Orchestra was formally established. In 1995, it was inaugurated as the NUS Symphony Orchestra (NUSSO), the name it carries till today.
NUSSO offers undergraduates the opportunity to enjoy music-making in an orchestra, while reading non-music disciplines. Under the musical leadership of Maestro Lim Soon Lee since 1994, the NUS Symphony Orchestra has grown to become home to over 100 members, consisting of undergraduates, alumni and friends. Tutors of the various sections of the Orchestra include musicians from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO).
As a member of the NUS Centre For the Arts (CFA), NUSSO actively brings music to the university community and the public, performing regularly both on and off campus. Apart from staging annual concerts, it has performed at venues such as the Istana Park, the Singapore Botanic Gardens and National Library Plaza. NUSSO has performed at official functions including the World Trade Organisation First Ministerial Conference Concert Preview at the Sentosa Musical Fountain, NUS Convocation Dinners and the President’s Scholarships Presentation.
NUSSO has also been on the international stage, performing at places such as the Sydney Opera House (2005), Musikverein (2013), and MuTH – Concert Hall of the Vienna Boy’s Choir (2013). The orchestra has also participated in international music festivals such as the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (1998 and 2005), the Australian International Music Festival (2001), and the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival – Vienna (2013).
Notable collaborations include working with Singapore Lyric Theatre on Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow (2004). NUSSO has accompanied acclaimed soloist such as piano virtuoso Konstantin Scherbakov on Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 in C minor (2003), violinist Yang Tianwa on Saint Saen’s Violin Concerto No. 3, Op. 61 in B Minor (2004) and violist Anatoly Zelinsky (2007) on Hindemith’s Trauermusik and Paganini’s Grand Sonata for Viola and Orchestra. In 2011, the Orchestra also performed in ChildAid charity concert together with many local and international young talents in bid to raise funds to aid needy children in Singapore. More recently in 2013, NUSSO was invited by the Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) to perform for its 20th anniversary Royal Concert, collaborating with Malay pop music icon Anuar Zain. NUSSO has also worked with local talents including violist Lim Chun, pianist Li Churen, violinist Alan Choo, and Singapore Chinese Orchestra principal yangqin player Qu Jian Qing.