Orchestra Overview

The Minnesota Saints Orchestra provides opportunities for musicians in the Twin Cities area to use their instrument in the service of the Lord, increase their talents, and enjoy the camaraderie of making music together.  Membership is open to competent and responsible musicians of high school age or older.  We welcome people of different faiths and backgrounds; you do not need to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to play in the orchestra.

Learn more about how to prepare for orchestra auditions.

Orchestra Tiers

Recognizing the abundance of instrumentalists in the Twin Cities area with differing skills, the Minnesota Saints Orchestra (MSO) operates in a three-tiered system.

The Tier 1 orchestra is a chamber orchestra of professional level musicians.  We recognize that these musicians, who engage daily with their instrument professionally, have little time and need for many rehearsals.

The Tier 2 orchestra is a full orchestra of advanced student and amateur musicians. This is the orchestra that most frequently accompanies the Chorale in large Wilberg-style arrangements.  It rehearses 4-6 times in preparation for a concert.


The Tier 2 orchestra is a full orchestra of advanced student and amateur musicians. This is the orchestra that most frequently accompanies the Chorale in large Wilberg-style arrangements.  It rehearses 4-6 times in preparation for a concert.

How the Tiered System Works

When you audition to play with the MSO, we will rank you in the tiered system and let you know of the opportunities in the coming year for that orchestra. Placement depends upon technique, intonation, and artistry (see table below). If at any time you feel ready to move to a higher tier, you are welcome to speak with the directors and audition again.

In this three-tiered system, musicians in upper tiers are welcome to play in lower tiered orchestras.  They are often invited to coach other players and lead sectionals.  Sometimes Tier 1 players are needed to round out the Tier 2 orchestra, but due to their professional commitments cannot attend all rehearsals.  Occasionally musicians may be invited to join a higher tiered orchestra for a specific piece or program at the discretion of the directors.

Skills & Attributes

Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Plays accurately by self; can adjust quickly and appropriately in an ensemble,
Can hear and adjust by self or in ensemble when directed to,
May have difficulty identifying intonation problems but can match pitches when directed to
Comfort across entire range of instrument in all keys. (Strings play all three octave scales). Can control dynamics despite difficult range. General mastery of instrument’s technique
Comfort in all keys within a modest range on instrument (strings play all two octave scales). Has experience with advanced technique on instrument (for example double tonguing for winds; thumb position for celli and basses)
Can play all chromatic notes in a limited range but less comfortable with some keys. Strings play in first position with occasional shifts
Can play with a variety of vibratos. Can both project or blend in ensemble. Plays with intent
Can play with vibrato; has ability to produce different tones with bow control/air support
Can vary dynamics and general playing styles: smooth; accented; staccato


Attendance at rehearsals is extremely important, for your presence not only benefits yourself  but also every other musician and conductor involved.  Each orchestra is built around an expected rehearsal schedule, and you will be required to commit to the rehearsals as well as the performances to be in the ensemble.  If you must miss a rehearsal, it is expected that you will make it up by attending an extra sectional or providing time in service of the Chorale and Orchestra.  Missed rehearsals must also be cleared with the directors, who may choose to invite another performer to participate instead.

All orchestra staffing needs should be determined 6-8 weeks before the concert date.  After this time your place in the ensemble may given to someone else on the waiting list.

Current Season Needs

We will assess needs in Fall 2021. Please contact us if you are interested in playing in the orchestra for the 2021-2022 season.

Past Repertoire

Orchestral repertoire

Georges Bizet, L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2 – Mvt IV, Farandole
Aaron Copland, Variations on a Shaker Hymn
Antonin Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 – Mvt II, Largo
Gustav Holst, St. Paul’s Suite – Mvt IV, Dargasson
Brian Kelly, Improvisations on Christmas Carols
Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Greensleeves”
Richard Hayman, “Carol of the Bells”

Notable vocal repertoire

Craig Courtney, “Carols of the Night”
Rob Gardner, “Lamb of God”
George F. Handel, “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from the Messiah
Antonio Vivaldi, “Gloria”
Mack Wilberg, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Mack Wilberg, “Joy to the World”
Mack Wilberg, “Carol to the King”
Brett Stewart, “I Heard the Bells”
Dan Forrest, “O Come All Ye Faithful”