The Free State Symphony Orchestra (FSSO) Company is home to the Free State’s only professional symphony orchestra and orchestral training programme (the music-educational pipeline).
Its essence is the seamless integration of music education and professional performance in the context of the symphony orchestra.
The FSSO is a registered public benefit organisation (BPO) with Section 18A status, aiming to sustain a symphony orchestra and a music-educational pipeline which provides orchestral development opportunities for young musicians and students from all communities.
It has two orchestras:
It also is in partnership with the UFS Odeion School of Music regarding its Free State Youth Wind Ensemble (FSYWE).
The Free State Symphony Orchestra is a professional ad hoc orchestra. Since its establishment in 1974, the professional core of the orchestra has comprised UFS music lecturers, Musicon music teachers and free-lance musicians from the area. For larger concerts, extra musicians from other centres are contracted. The core is supplemented by some of the best young instrumentalists (students and learners) in the province.
The music-educational pipeline provides a unique opportunity to young musicians from all backgrounds to gain invaluable professional experience by playing in the symphony orchestra. It could be argued that no other orchestral music education programme in South Africa has contributed more to orchestral music than the one in the Free State.
To pursue our objectives, we regularly present symphony concerts in which youth musicians participate and are mentored alongside their teachers and other professional players – whilst we entertain our patrons and audiences with high quality, inspiring, beautiful music performances.
Normally the FSSO seeks to present about eight symphony concerts per year, including some light music concerts. Choral concerts and opera can also be on the agenda, depending on funding and the singing programme of the Odeion School of Music. We utilise both the Odeion Theatre on the UFS campus and the majestic Sand du Plessis theatre of Pacofs.
The music-educational pipeline provides a unique opportunity to gifted young musicians from all backgrounds to gain invaluable professional experience by playing in a symphony orchestra: the FSYO as well as the FSSO.
The pipeline provides the opportunity for a new generation of youth musicians (learners, students) to transition from a junior youth orchestra at the Musicon or a school, to the senior youth orchestra (FSYO) and then, for the best ones, to playing in the professional symphony orchestra (FSSO). In the latter they have the opportunity to be mentored by their teachers/lecturers/professors and other highly-qualified professional musicians. From there they can go on to tertiary music studies and/or professional orchestral, chamber-music and/or teaching careers in music for those who want it.
It could be argued that no other orchestral music education programme in South Africa has contributed more to orchestral music development than the one in the Free State.
Read more about the Free State Youth Orchestra (FSYO) and our music-educational pipeline.