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.

Please note that for the 2015 - 2016 Season.

Tuesdays 7.15 - 9.30pm
Thursdays 4.30 - 6.00pm

Thursday rehearsals are extended by 30 minutes during the week of the performance. (ie 4.30 - 6.30pm)

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

2015 - 2016 Performances

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 the 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.


There will be sectionals scheduled occasionally throughout the semester, usually during the regular rehearsal time with guest coaches. Sectionals will be coached by either the conductor, a guest artist or a section leader. It is required that all attend sectionals. You will have at least a one-week notice of all sectionals via email and on the orchestra website. Sectionals are a great opportunity to make up for lost rehearsal time resulting from an absence.

Rehearsal Protocol

As a mark of respect to each other, all musicians should be in their seats and ready to tune five minutes before the beginning of each rehearsal. Your grade will be impacted if you arrive after the five minute call time. Prepare to remain seated for a long period of time (ie avoid leaving the rehearsal; use the restroom before rehearsal or at the break)

Breaks:    2 hour rehearsal – 10 minutes 
            2.5 hour rehearsal – 15 minutes
               3 hour rehearsal – 20 minutes

Each musician is responsible for keeping track of the break time. Return promptly and be ready to play immediately at the end of each break. Find the location of the clock and note the possible time difference between that and your personal timepiece.

Please bring what is required for the rehearsal (instrument, auxiliary instruments, rehearsal pencil, music scores, mutes, tuner, rosin, swabs, valve oil etc) If you need to borrow any auxiliary instruments you do not already possess, please approach the stage manager for help.

Be responsible for learning and knowing your part for the first rehearsal. If needed, bring your music to your teacher for guidance. Take the time to learn about the music and composer you are playing. It helps us all to be better musicians.

While we support engaging deeply with the music, respect the conductor’s decisions and leadership and listen to what he or she has to say. Always address questions through your section leader. It is their job to ask the conductor. If your question can wait, please hold it until the break.

To be a strong orchestra community, be kind to and supportive of everyone.

Concert Protocol

In order to present our performances in the most professional way, the orchestra will utilize the following procedures:

All personnel are expected to be at the concert hall at the start of all concerts, regardless of program order.

The call for arrival before every performance is 15 minutes. You must check in with the Orchestra Manager; if you do not, you will be marked late and your grade will be affected.

The stage lights will be set at its full concert level when the house opens to the public. You should be in your seat five minutes in advance of the advertised concert time.

If your chair or stand needs to be replaced, or you need a stand light, you must inform the orchestra manager no later than five minutes before the start of the concert. Needs communicated later than that may not be addressed until intermission. 

When the performance is ready to begin, the house (audience) lights will be lowered and a production crew member will stand at each side of the stage, holding up one hand as a signal for the orchestra to become quiet. After a ‘go’ from the Music Department Concert Managers, the Concertmaster enters the stage. After tuning, the conductor enters the stage and the house lights go down to concert level.

When the Concertmaster enters and tunes the orchestra, she will generally ask for two A’s from the Principal Oboe. The first A is for the winds and brass, the second A is for the strings.

The orchestra tunes to A = 440hz.

In the event that there is a stage change requiring you to move from your seat, please go offstage completely and quickly. If you are not required to move (i.e., remain onstage), refrain from talking during the stage change.

In order to fully acknowledge the audience’s appreciation of the orchestra at the end of a work, please turn to face the audience and smile when you stand up. Downstage players (first violins and celli) may find it most practical to turn towards the audience.

Talking, putting away music or equipment, or entering or leaving the stage during applause is often regarded as a sign of disrespect to our audiences and is therefore strongly discouraged.

Concert Dress Code

The orchestra maintains a professional dress code for all public performances. The following dress code is in effect on stage and in the public areas of the concert hall, from 30 minutes prior to the performance through the end of the performance. Any deviations from the dress code will be announced and posted in advance of the performance.

Women Men

Long sleeve black blouse or formal top

Mid-calf or long black skirt or dress pants

Mid-calf or long black dress

Black socks or stockings/nylons

Black closed-toed shoes

Well-pressed Black Tuxedo or Black Suit

Clean long sleeve white shirt

Black bow tie

Solid black socks

Polished black shoes

It is the individual player’s responsibility to obtain the proper concert attire. Please see the board if you need advice on procuring the dress code stated above.