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St Andrews Symphony Orchestra

The Society's Flagship Ensemble

St Andrews Symphony Orchestra is the largest orchestra in town.

Fully auditioned, the Orchestra consists of the University's finest student instrumentalists and is professionally conducted by Iain McLarty. 


Recent repertoire includes:

  • Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade"

  • Saint-Saëns' "Organ Symphony"

  • Williams' Suite from "Star Wars"

  • Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5

Past performances include concerts with Viv McLean (former winner of the Maria Canals Piano Competition) and Christian Elliott (Principal Cellist of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and former Guest Principal of the SCO and the BBC Philharmonic) as well as a performance with SATB chorus of "Ever to Excel", a piece commissioned by the Music Society and written by former University Composer in Residence Mark Boden as part of the University's 600th anniversary celebrations.

Rehearsals take place on Tuesdays, 6.30 - 9.00pm.

Managers: Arabella Palmer and Camille Ryder

Our Conductor

Scottish conductor Iain McLarty studied

in the Soloist Class at the Royal Danish

Academy of Music  (DKDM) in

Copenhagen, concluding in a concert with

Aarhus Symfoniorkester which included the

Danish première of James MacMillan's "The

Confession of Isobel Gowdie". He has also conducted many of the professional Danish orchestras and assisted for productions with the Royal Danish Opera Academy. He is committed to performing contemporary music, giving numerous premières in both Scandinavia and the UK, and has taken part in masterclasses with the London Sinfonietta, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and BBC Singers.

In Scotland he has worked with groups across the country, performing much of the standard orchestral and choral repertoire as well as such diverse pieces as a concerto for birds and orchestra, choral works for forty individual voices, and a new opera based on reality TV. He is currently Musical Director of the Scottish Chamber Choir, Conductor of St Andrews University Symphony Orchestra and a regular guest conductor with Edinburgh University String Orchestra and Meadows Chamber Orchestra. He has previously held positions as Sir Alexander Gibson Conducting Fellow with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus and Herrick Bunney Organ Scholar at St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh.

In 2020 he co-directed a virtual recording of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" which featured musicians from across Scotland and beyond. This raised funds for Help Musicians Scotland and received a special commendation from the Royal Philharmonic Society at their annual awards in the Inspiration category.


Auditions take place in week 1 of the academic year and last ~5 minutes! Get more info at the music fayre during freshers' week.

We ask all prospective members of the Orchestra to audition at the start of each academic year, including returning students. However, this process need not be a source of anxiety - it is quite informal and the panel consists of only the conductor.

Players should prepare a piece they are comfortable playing unaccompanied; there will also be a short sight-reading except.

Please arrive 10 minutes before your time slot and we'll direct you to a room where you can warm up.

For other queries including:

  • Auditioning after week 1

  • Requiring a bulky instrument (e.g. harp, percussion) for your audition

  • Any other accommodations you might need

Please do contact us at


We rehearse regularly on Tuesdays, 18:30 till 21:00 in the Laidlaw Music Centre. There is a relaxed pub social after each rehearsal!

Feel free to check out  some of our recent concerts on our YouTube; see below a 2023 recording of us playing Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5.

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