Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra

The Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble comprised of faculty, hired professionals, and is open to students who successfully audition for the Millikin University School of Music. The MDSO performs an annual Labor-Day Pops Concert, 5 Masterworks Concerts, Advent Services, and hosts high-profile guest artists and concerto/aria competition. Selected students also have the opportunity to play for Musical Theatre productions and various community and educational events. Membership in MDSO places a high demand on students who gain hands-on experience by playing side-by-side with faculty and other professionals in a nurturing environment.

Millikin Chamber Orchestra

Millikin Chamber Orchestra is primarily a student ensemble and is dedicated to providing high-quality training through exposure to an immense body of orchestral literature. Rehearsals are MW (7:15-9:45 p.m.) and membership is open to all Millikin students through audition. There are no restrictions on those playing a string instrument, but those playing wind, brass, and percussion, must be recommended by studio teachers.


Fall 2022 String Placement Audition Excerpts
Sunday, August 21, 1-4 pm, PMC Kaeuper Hall



Audition Sheet Music







William McClain, Music Director and Conductor | (217) 424-3774

Ion-Alexandru Malaimare, Violin
                                    | (217) 424-6302

Sharon Chung, Viola | (217) 424-6307

Amy Catron, Cello | (217) 424-3522

, Double Bass

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MDSO Masterworks V 2021


Meet violinist Adrian Sanchez Rodriguez 2021



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The Amati String Scholarship

The Amati String Scholarship offered to School of Music students covers up to full tuition for exceptionally talented string students.  For more information, contact School of Music Audition Coordinator at


amati string scholarships

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Common Questions

How can I get into the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra and Millikin Chamber Orchestra?

If you audition successfully for the Millikin University School of Music on violin, viola, cello, or orchestral bass, you will automatically become part of the orchestra program. No further audition is necessary.

What if I play a wind or percussion instrument?

If you are a music major or minor on a woodwind or brass instrument, your required major ensemble will always be the Concert Band or Symphonic Wind Ensemble. However, you may also play in the orchestra upon placement by your studio teacher. Percussionists rotate between Band, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra.

What if I won’t be majoring in an orchestral instrument, but I’d like to keep up my playing?

If your primary medium is voice, piano, guitar, or some other non-orchestral instrument, you may still be able to play in the orchestra as an elective. Violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists play an audition for the conductor. If you play woodwind, brass, or percussion, you must be placed by the studio teacher.

What if I’m not going to major in music at all?

All Millikin students are eligible to audition for the orchestra on string instruments. Wind, brass, and percussion players must be placed by the performance faculty.

Is financial aid available for playing in orchestra if it’s not my major instrument?

If you play an orchestral instrument, we encourage you to schedule an audition for the School of Music, regardless of your intended major. Talent awards for ongoing and successful contributions to Millikin’s instrumental ensembles are available to all students.

Is the orchestra open to community players?

Per-service positions are available to qualified freelance musicians. Contact Dr. William McClain to schedule an audition.

What works have been performed by the Orchestra recently?


Knoxville, Summer of 1915
Symphonies Nos. 3,5,6,7, and 9, Piano Concertos Nos. 1,3,5
Symphony No. 4, Haydn Variations, Serenade in A, Piano Concerto No. 1
Psalm 150
As Quiet As
Tender Land Suite, Appalachian Spring Suite, Old American Songs
Nocturnes, Afternoon of a Faun
Cello Concerto, Symphony No. 9
Enigma Variations
Creation, Nelson Mass, Symphony No. 81
Symphonies Nos. 1,2,4, and 5
Symphony No. 4
Songs of Love and War
Requiem, Symphonies Nos. 26, 41
Pictures at an Exhibition
Tombeau de Couperin, Pavane, Mother Goose Suite
Reels and Revelries
Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 5
Sweeney Todd
Death and Transfiguration
Rite of Spring
Symphony No. 4, Violin Concerto, Nutcracker
Selections from Meistersinger, Tannhauser, and the Ring
Light of Three Mornings, Autumn Leaves
Jerusalem, Open your Gates

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Our History

The Orchestra was created by the convergence of an established community orchestra with the Millikin University Orchestra in the early 1920’s. The scope of the Symphony’s services and activities were expanded in 1975 with the formation of the Symphony Guild of Decatur, a non-profit support organization representing the wider community. This partnership has allowed the MDSO to provide an ever-expanding galaxy of cultural benefits to central Illinois in the last quarter century, including symphony concerts, the co-sponsorship of the Decatur Youth Orchestra, youth scholarships for private lessons and summer music camps, in-school programs, a competition for University soloists, clinics, workshops, master classes with guest artists, and partnerships with the music programs at area schools. For the first two decades of this period, the orchestra was conducted by the successive Deans of the Millikin University School of Music, Ronald Gregory and Wesley Tower.

An important new stage of growth began in 1996 with the creation of a full-time position for a professional Music Director and Conductor, a position that was filled with the appointment of Dr. Michael Luxner. Since that time, the orchestra has converted from a college-community model to a fully auditioned professional model. Working conditions, pay scale, rehearsal schedules, travel allowances, and repertoire are now on a par with other professional ensembles in the region, and the orchestra’s student members are trained in a professional environment and standard of performance.

The MDSO is also intensely engaged in efforts to build new audiences and to raise the Orchestra’s profile in the wider community. Initiatives in this area include outreach concerts, media appearances, contract services, publications, speaking engagements, and new partnerships with underserved constituencies. Building on a venerable history and unique spirit of the town and gown cooperation, the Millikin-Decatur Symphony looks forward to a distinguished future of artistic achievement and community pride.

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