Symphony Orchestra

2017 Orchestra Group Photo

The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra is a fun, passionate, diverse, and welcoming community of musicians dedicated to performing a variety of musical genres through unique concert experiences in the community and beyond.

The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra (MHSO) is one of the largest musical groups on campus. Led by their conductor Ng Tian Hui, the group reflects the diversity of the college's community, with musicians from the five colleges and the Pioneer Valley, in addition to students, faculty, and staff from Mount Holyoke College. Students who perform in the Orchestra might be majors in Music or Biology, English or International Relations, philosophy or mathematics. They are drawn by the collective desire to be an active participant in creating great beauty in the realm of sound.

History of the Orchestra

Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra comprises of approximately 50 musicians drawn from the Mount Holyoke College community and its community. Directed by Tian Hui Ng, the orchestra is dedicated to being an outstanding resource for orchestral music for the region and presents about 6 concerts per year, including our beloved Monsters Ball, where audiences come dress in horrific splendor for a night of soundtrack music and dance on Halloween weekend, our Mary Lyon concerts, celebrating the works of women and our annual concerto and aria competition which celebrates student talent at the college.

A champion of music by diverse composers, the orchestra has won the American Prize Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award in Orchestral Programming and earned a special mention for its pioneering work with Olabode Omojola on the first Nigerian opera for the western stage. Guest soloists who have appeared with the MHSO in recent seasons include the Grammy Award winning Dashon Burton (bass-baritone), Julliard Quartet member, Astrid Schween (cello) and Sara Davis Buechner (piano). Essential to the orchestra’s artistic life are our interdisciplinary explorations over the years with many artists including Rie Hachiyanagi (paper sculpture), Saulius Slezas (interactive video), Elliott Forrest (video art), Rose Flachs (dance).

Music-191 Syllabus

The Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra (MHSO) is Mount Holyoke College's principal undergraduate classical music instrumental ensemble. We are a 50-member orchestra of women and men, sponsored by the Music Department.  The orchestra is not only been a place for great music, but also one for friendships which last a lifetime.

Under the direction of Tian Hui Ng, the Orchestra's diverse repertoire includes everything from popular movie soundtracks to major orchestral works. We perform for audiences in the community four times each year and tour every other year.

Course Details

Course Number Music 191

1 credit, letter grade, each semester.

All members must take Symphony Orchestra as a registered course.

Prerequisite Successful audition. (Permission of the instructor)
Conductor Tian Hui Ng
Location McCulloch Auditorium, Pratt Hall

T: (413) 538-2343



Regular rehearsals are held in McCulloch Auditorium in Pratt Hall.

Tuesdays 7:15-9:30 pm
Thursdays 4:45-6:15 pm

Thursday rehearsals are extended by 30 minutes during the week of the performance. (ie 4:45-6:45pm)

Additional dress rehearsals are added during the week of performance. These rehearsal times will be confirmed at the start of each term.


Please refer to our Concert Season page for an updated concert schedule for the year.



Grade Range: A - F

Factors that weigh in on the final grade awarded to the student include:
i.    attendance
ii.    music preparation (please remember that practicing your part is the musical equivalent of weekly assignments for all courses)
iii.    contribution in orchestra

Students may be asked to leave Orchestra for the year, with a grade of Fail, at the discretion of the director, for any of the following reasons:

i.    more than one unexcused absence from rehearsals
ii.    any unexcused absence from a performance
iii.    more than four excused absences in a two week period
iv.    failing more than one part-check in a semester

Course Attendance Policy

Musicians are expected to attend and be punctual for all assigned sessions and contribute fully to the rehearsal. As a mark of respect to our fellow musicians, we are expected to learn and play the assigned music to the best of our ability.

It is mandatory to be in our seats five minutes before each session. We must be prepared to perform, listen to announcements, follow instructions of the conductor and tune. If the player is not in his or her seat five minutes before the rehearsal time, he or she will be marked late.

Do take responsibility for getting yourself to a rehearsal or concert on time. You are part of a community which requires every member to be present in order to achieve the best it is capable of. Showing up, being on time (or early) shows respect to yourself, your colleagues and the conductor.

If you know you are about to be late, call the Orchestra Manager to inform her that you are on your way and your estimated time of arrival. Look for the Orchestra Manager during the break or after rehearsal to explain why you were late, so she can take note of that in her records. As a matter of courtesy, please approach the conductor and let him or her know why you were late too.

In the event of a schedule conflict, please contact the Orchestra Manager and the Director of the Orchestra as soon as the conflict arises. Do not wait until the last minute to do this as this allows the Orchestra no time to react and help you resolve the conflict.

In the event of illness or emergency, contact the Orchestra Manager and Director as soon as you are able to do so, to inform them about what has occurred.

Please note that should you miss the Final Dress rehearsal without a valid reason, the Director reserves the right to suspend you from the concert.


2017 Brass Section


All players interested in playing with the orchestra should sign up for an audition during the annual audition period at the start of the academic year. Each audition typically lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Every Fall, both new and returning members are required to audition. This allows us to more fairly account for progress in each returning player's ability for the year's seatings and rotations. The orchestra listens to much fewer auditions in the Spring term because members who are admitted in the Fall do not need to re-audition. As such, please email our director, Tian Hui Ng at to schedule a time. Please check the auditions page for this year's Fall and Spring audition times.

Current students who would like to audition before the end of Fall Term should also email him.

Each audition typically lasts 10 to 15 minutes. Please see detailed information on the orchestra's audition procedures.

Special Past Events

Composer and music educator Hoh Chung Shih

Singaporean composer in residence at MHC.

Hoh Chung Shih, a leading composer and music educator, came to Mount Holyoke for a week's residency and the world premiere of his new experimental work.
Metamorphonics 2016

Metamorphonics 2016

A multimedia extravaganza that included live electronic sound, film, dance and interactive video