Universities of Scotland Symphony Orchestra

USSO is an orchestra of 80 students of all ages and nationalities, taken from over 20 Scottish education institutions. Over just one week in May, we rehearse and perform together, making memories and friendships that last a lifetime.


Timed to fit neatly between exams and graduation, the Universities of Scotland Symphony Orchestra (USSO) meets for an annual course consists of three full rehearsal days at the Craigmore Centre at Gartmore House before culminating in a gala concert in Edinburgh in aid of Music In Hospitals & Care Scotland.

USSO is delighted to be able to support MiHC, who are a charity that bring interactive live music sessions to people who are receiving care or treatment in healthcare settings across the UK.

Music in Hospitals and Care Logo

Some of Scotland's best professional players are on hand for the first three days giving sectionals. Previous tutors included the Co-Leader of the RSNO, the Leader of the Scottish Ballet orchestra, former leader of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the founder violist of the Edinburgh Quartet and the Director of Scottish Opera Connect Company.

Read about our previous courses here...

The Course

Please note there are no courses scheduled for May 2021 or 2022.

May 2019 Course

USSO's 7th annual course was a rare and exciting opportunity to work on Stravinsky’s complete score to his ballet Petrushka. We performed this dazzling orchestral tour de force alongside one of the most popular concertos in the repertoire, Dvořák’s Concerto for Cello.

Set in the Trossachs, Gartmore House is in a beautiful setting for just over three days of rehearsal. Sectional rehearsals were given by some of Scotland’s top orchestral musicians on the first two days. There was still time to relax and all food was provided whilst at Gartmore, with social events and a ceilidh provided.

After the residential course, we moved closer to civilisation to perform our gala concert at Glasgow's West End Festival. We welcomed a special guest soloist, Liubov Ulybysheva and our conductor this year was Robert Baxter.

The concert was performed in aid of our partner charity Music In Hospitals and Care Scotland who last year celebrated their 70th anniversary. We did a special pop-up event at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in the morning of our concert for staff and patients.

Who are we?

An exciting partnership founded in 2013 enabling students from all over Scotland to come together and perform. In 2017, USSO celebrated its fifth anniversary with a tour of Scotland. Over 90 students from 14 institutions came together for 4 concerts - in Gartmore, Aviemore, Edinburgh and Lockerbie.

Applications are welcomed from any HE student in Scotland, whether at university or conservatoire—auditions may be necessary for oversubscribed woodwind/brass/string leader positions.

The Universities of Scotland Symphony Orchestra (USSO) is primarily run by Chris Swaffer (Artistic Director) and Caitlin Diver (General Manager). They are supported by a committee made up of student representatives from several university music societies around Scotland, and an independent professional overseeing applications and places.