About the Symphony


The Cal Poly Symphony is a full orchestra of approximately 90 members that performs major concerts in the Performing Arts Center's Christopher Cohan Center each quarter and farther afield on regular tours. The ensemble's members are students from almost every major on campus.  With many years of musical experience and dedication, they come together to keep orchestral music a part of their life at Cal Poly, find balance with their studies, and make great friends.

Conductor / Leadership

The orchestra has been directed by David Arrivée since Fall 2004, and is also supported by sectional coaches, private instructors and student officers.  Visit each page to learn more.


Our repertoire includes everything from blockbuster orchestral works to music from the movies and video games.  In the 2014-2015 Season, for example, we performed music from operas with professional opera singers, selections performed with Cal Poly's Orchesis dance company (including the James Bond Theme), and Tchaikovsky's monumental Symphony No. 5.  Other seasons have seen us link Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and music from Angry Birds on the same concert and have included works from Holst's The Planets to John Williams' music from Star Wars (the original suite, as well as Battle of the Heroes with the combined Cal Poly Choirs).

For more information on our repertoire, please see our current season or browse our Past Seasons.


We collaborate regularly with guest artists and other university ensembles. For example, we have joined forces with the Cal Poly Choirs to perform such works as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, music from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem​, and Gabriel Fauré's Requiem.  We have welcomed such guest soloists as pianist Robert Thies, the Amelia Piano Trio, violinist Brynn Albanese and pianist W. Terrence Spiller.  On tour, we have collaborated with the Prelude Choir of Budapest (Hungary), Charles University Choir (Prague, Czech Republic), Prague Singers (Czech Republic) and Cantus Novus Wien (Vienna, Austria).

We also collaborate with professionals in other arts.  Photographer Sky Bergman created an original (and stunningly HD) projection of images to accompany our performance of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition; Cal Poly’s Orchesis dance company performed original choreography by their directors on stage as the Symphony performed in the pit, and theater professor Josh Machamer narrated Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf

For more information, please see our Collaborations page.


The Symphony frequently embarks on tours within the state of California, playing for youth orchestras and high school music programs while at the same time taking in major cultural attractions.  We undertake national or international tours approximately every four years.

Most recently, in June 2016, the Cal Poly Symphony traveled to Central Europe, performing in the Matthias Church (Budapest), Dvorak Hall (Prague) and St. Stephen's Cathedral (Vienna).  In each city, we collaborated with European choirs as well: the Prelude Choir of Budapest (Hungary), Charles University Choir (Prague, Czech Republic), Prague Singers (Czech Republic) and Cantus Novus Wien (Vienna, Austria).  Travelers enjoyed the huge variety of cultural sights these cities offered and relaxed a bit in their down time (see our Facebook page for pictures).

For more information, see our Tours page.


From the "Cal Poly Little Symphony" of the 1960's to the Symphony of today, the orchestra has changed with the times.  Please see our History page for the whole story.

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