Explore the vast creative range of today's contemporary orchestra.

One of the top orchestral programs in the United States, the ASU Orchestras explore the vast creative range of today’s contemporary orchestra and bring its audiences an engaging variety of masterworks, new music, groundbreaking guest artists, multi-media collaborations and award-winning programming. The ASU Orchestras are creating a new model for professional and pre-professional arts organizations that value the diverse potential of human creativity. The program is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion through music and the arts.

The ASU orchestra program provides its members with intensive orchestral training and professional level artistic performance experience. The orchestras perform challenging and diverse repertoire chosen to help emerging professional musicians develop a wide range of skills and aptitudes. Rich concert programming offers audiences and the greater arts community opportunities to engage with major works of the orchestral canon as well as cutting-edge works of our time. Exploring the full creative range of today’s contemporary orchestral ensemble, the ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Chamber Orchestra seek to perform canonical works with technical excellence and artistry while also pushing musical boundaries through innovative multi-disciplinary collaborations. The ASU Philharmonia provides its members an engaging and vigorous foundational orchestral experience for both music and non-music majors. The ASU Studio Orchestra functions as the laboratory orchestra for ASU’s exemplary class of graduate conductors and the Music Theatre and Opera Orchestra provides pit orchestra support for Music, Theatre and Opera productions.

The program aims to extend student learning through valuable interactions with professional artists. ASU faculty are closely involved with their students’ orchestral experience and regularly lead orchestral sectionals. The ASU orchestras also maintain a vibrant relationship with the Phoenix Symphony with frequent guest artist visits in both sectional rehearsals and side-by-side rehearsal contexts.

Listen and watch

Towards a More Perfect Union

An ASU Gammage and ASU Symphony theatrical, symphonic concert—with film, song, and spoken word—highlighting new works and powerful compositions that speak to the challenges of our time.

Don Juan

The ASU Symphony Orchestra opens the 2018-19 with Strauss’s explosive tone poem Don Juan, which launched him to international fame when he was only 25 years old.

Harp of Nerves

JIJI performs Harp of Nerves, a guitar concerto by Hilary Purrington, with the ASU Symphony Orchestra.

Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)

The ASU Symphony Orchestra performs Missy Mazzoli's "Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), March 2020, Ikeda Theater, Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ.

Alumni highlights

Mark Alpizar

Mark Alpizar graduated from ASU's doctoral conducting program in 2018 where he helped create the orchestra's first-ever video game pops program, co-conducted an award-winning production of Poulenc's "Les mamelles de Tirésias," and premiered three cues from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" in advance of the movie's commercial release. Since then, he was the assistant conductor of both the National Repertory Orchestra and Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the resident conductor of the American Youth Symphony, and the director of instrumental ensembles at Lake Erie College. Alpizar recently finished his seven-season tenure with the Four Seasons Youth Orchestra in Orange County and has recently begun a new post as the music director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. He regularly guest conducts the Holland Symphony Orchestra in Michigan and is a clinician for honor ensembles throughout the country. 

"Arizona State University's conducting program gave me the confidence to conduct professionally as well as the skills to succeed as an educator and arts leader. In addition to ample podium time, a customizable degree path, and frequent sessions with internationally-recognized artists, ASU's talented network of graduate students are the colleagues I still frequently collaborate with today."

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michelle dirusso

Michelle Di Russo completed her DMA in Orchestral Conducting at ASU in 2020. She is a 2020-21 Conducting Fellow with Chicago Sinfonietta and The Dallas Opera Hart Institute, and in the summer of 2020, she was a recipient of the American Austrian Foundation/Faber Young Conductors Fellowship. While at ASU she served as assistant conductor for the ASU Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, and Music Theatre and Opera. She was also the Assistant Conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony and covered for AZ Musicfest and the Phoenix Symphony. She is passionate and dedicated to the music of our time and has participated as a fellow in the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, United States Army Band Pershing’s Own Workshop and Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy.

“My education at ASU has given me the artistic and leadership tools to succeed in the ever-changing job market and has prepared me to be ready to adapt and learn new skills in order to be successful in the future. My three years there were crucial in gathering professional-level experience on the podium while also focusing on areas of research that I was passionate about. Since graduating I am still discovering the impact that this wonderful program has had on my career!”

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kamna gupta

Kamna Gupta is an American Prize-winning conductor experienced in operatic, orchestral, and choral repertoires, and completed her MM at ASU in 2018. She is especially passionate about new opera. Upcoming engagements include several world premieres, including her Canadian debut at Tapestry Opera and The Glimmerglass Festival. Additional recent company credits include the Royal Opera in Versailles, Beth Morrison Projects, Sarasota Opera, Opera Saratoga and American Lyric Theater.

Active internationally, Gupta’s orchestral credits include performances in Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic. A special highlight was leading the Leipziger Barockorchester in an all-Bach program. Additional highlights include her work with the New York Youth Symphony and the Atlantic Music Festival.

Gupta’s passion for education has also led her to work with education departments at the New York Philharmonic and the Castleton Festival. She is currently based in New York City.

"My time at ASU [in the MM program] was invaluable and formative. The program gave me the technical foundation to lead an ensemble with confidence and clarity, and gave me essential professional opportunities that started my career."

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sunny xia

Sunny Xia currently serves as Douglas F. King Assistant Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, a position she won after a rigorous selection process. In the 2021-22 season, Xia was selected as Conducting Fellow of the prestigious Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, invited to lead a production of La bohème with the Chandler Opera Company to great acclaim, and appeared with double bassist Xavier Foley and violinist Eunice Kim in Foley’s poignant work For Justice and Peace at Mesa Arts Center. Additional engagements included Assistant Conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestra and Cover Conductor for Arizona Musicfest. In the 2020-21 season, she appeared as guest conductor with the MusicaNova Orchestra and was invited to serve as Assistant Conductor at the National Music Festival and Pierre Monteux Music Festival. Recognized for her innate musicality, compelling presence and technical precision, Xia’s ability to forge an immediate and captivating connection with orchestras and audiences alike has led to lasting partnerships and engagements around the country. An accomplished violinist, prior to becoming a conductor, Xia performed as a soloist with orchestras in China and Australia, including the symphony orchestras of Harbin, Zheijiang, Hunan and Guangxi, and the Concertante Ensemble. 

“The Orchestral Conducting program at ASU is one of extraordinary excellence and depth that offers extensive musical and academic possibilities at the same time. My time at ASU prepared me to work with professional ensembles of the highest caliber as well as approach challenges with an innovative, inquisitive, and compassionate spirit.”

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Orchestral opportunities

Chamber Orchestra

Chamber Orchestra



Studio Orchestra

Studio Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra

Orchestral degrees

conductor conducting

Conducting, DMA

music performance dma

Music Performance, DMA

students playing trombone

Music Performance, Minor

music performance mm

Music Performance, MM

music ba band

Music, BA

conductor and orchestra

Performance (Conducting), MM


Performance (Guitar), BMUS

trumpet and trombone

Performance (Jazz), BMUS

performance orchestral harps

Performance (Orchestral Instrument), BMUS

Music director  

Assistant conductors

Sergio Freeman

Sergio Freeman, conductor, instrumentalist and vocal coach was born in Mazatlán, México. He was principal clarinetist of Camerata Mazatlán and has played with orchestras like Orquesta Sinaloa de las Artes and Orquesta del Teatro del Bicentenario. As a pianist and vocal coach he collaborated with the Mazatlan opera studio and at the Bellas Artes opera studio in Mexico City. He has served as rehearsing pianist and vocal coach at productions of operas like Traviata, Rigoletto, La Medium, L’elisir d’Amore, Don Giovanni, La Boheme, Tosca, Sour Angelica, Gianni Schicchi among others.

As a conductor he holds a master’s degree from the University of Veracruz from which he graduated with honors, his conducting mentors were Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr. and Gaetan Kuchta. He has conducted groups like Enigma Ensemble, Orquesta Universitaria de Música Popular de la UV, Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo. Sergio is currently Artistic Director and Conductor of the Orquesta del Teatro Ángela Peralta. He is currently pursuing his Doctoral in Musical Arts at Arizona State University and serves as Assistant conductor of the ASU orchestras under the guidance of Jeffery Meyer.

Kara Piatt

Born and raised in Arizona, Kara Piatt began her conducting studies during her undergraduate degree in Piano Performance at Northern Arizona University. Her voice and piano background led her to become an Assistant Conductor and Pianist with the NAU Lyric Opera Theatre and Director Dr. Daniel Keith O’Bryant in their rehearsals and performances. Simultaneously, Kara was the accompanist for multiple instrumental and choral ensembles in the NAU School of Music, which exposed her to a wide variety of conducting styles. These experiences ignited a true passion for conducting and led Kara to pursue many educational opportunities across the country with various renowned conducting pedagogues. She most recently graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with her Masters Degree in Orchestral Conducting under the tutelage of Mark Gibson. There, her conducting engagements included serving as Assistant Conductor of the CCM Philharmonia, CCM Concert Orchestra, and the CCM Dance and Opera programs. She also had the opportunity to work closely with talented conductors such as Maestro Louis Langree from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and she even joined the CCM Philharmonia as a pianist on numerous occasions. Kara is incredibly excited to continue her studies at ASU for her Doctorate in Orchestral and Opera Conducting. She feels it will push her to new heights as a conductor, educator, and musician, and bring her closer to her eventual goal of sharing classical music with modern audiences around the world.