Musical student association: "Every academic year we work very hard towards our concerts"

24 November 2023 |

The Ghent University Symphonic Orchestra (GUSO) is a vibrant symphonic orchestra, entirely for and by students. During the academic year, the musicians enjoy playing and work diligently towards a sparkling double concert. We asked Liesel what makes GUSO so special.

We asked Liesel Schepens, master in rehabilitation sciences and physiotherapy for musculoskeletal disorders, why the student orchestra is so special.

““I am active as a violinist in the GUSO, for the second year now. I really like it. In terms of time you have to put in, it's not too bad either. We have our general rehearsals together  with the whole group. In addition, we also have rehearsals with a coach per section (first violins, second violins, violas, cellos, double basses and winds) so that we can practice the difficult pieces separately. Finally, you also have to practice a lot at home, unless you are a  prodigy who plays everything like it's child's play (laughs)."

"That fluctuates year by year. For example, some years we have more violinists than other years. Fortunately, we always have a sufficiently large line-up to shape the orchestra. Anyone can also do auditions. A certain level is expected. The works we play are symphonic works that professional orchestras also play.”

A musical journey to 1883

"We work very hard towards our concerts every academic year. I'm looking forward to it. I'm not really nervous. The most exciting moment is at the very beginning. Stepping on stage, knowing that everyone is anxiously waiting for us to start playing our first notes."

"The theme of our upcoming concerts is 1883. Every work we play is from that year 1883 or the composer started working on it then. We try to reflect the spirit of that year through the music. We start with Chausson's Viviane, a previously unknown piece perhaps. It is a symphonic poem in which we follow the fairy Viviane from the King Arthur legend. Then we play Mahler, in which the composer interweaves his love for nature with the sadness for a lost loved one. We play this with a soloist, a mezzo-soprano. That is unique. At certain parts the music breaks open completely. That's what I'm sitting on stage enjoying so much. The last piece we will play is Brahms's Third Symphony. For us it is a lot of fun to play. Certainly the finale, my favorite piece in the concert, is a blast." (laughs)


GUSO-violinist Liesel: “I think you can really notice when we are playing that we are mainly a close group of friends."


A close-knit group of friends

“I think you can really notice when we are playing that we are mainly a close group of friends. We work very intensely together towards our concerts, but we also do many other activities as a group. We try to provide a cheerful, warm environment for our members as much as possible. We also do a music internship every semester, with all of us. We went to the sea during the autumn holidays. Then we practice for about 6:30 hours a day and have fun the rest of the day. During the Easter holidays we are going to take a long train trip to Uppsala. We will rehearse there for a week and also give a concert."

"After my studies I will definitely continue playing music. Music is a too important part of my life and playing in a symphony orchestra is fantastic."

Gents Universitair Symfonisch Orkest at work

The Ghent University Symphonic Orchestra dares to play! This student orchestra has been musically active in the heart of Ghent since 2006. In November the GUSO warms you with masterpieces from the year 1883. They present Chausson, Mahler and Brahms.

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