Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra


The BCSO is the premiere symphony at Berklee College of Music, offering students, faculty, and guest artists the opportunity to come together and perform some of the most influential music ever written. Focused on the regular and intentional inclusion of composers who represent the broad spectrum of our humanity, the BCSO performs both traditional and contemporary genres side-by-side (including film and video-game music), because all orchestral music was once contemporary. The ensemble is dedicated to creating the musical change we seek to see in professional orchestral music, with a commitment to including compositions by women and people of color on every concert. The BCSO is led by Artistic Director Julius P. Williams and Managing Director Jamie Davis-Ponce.

Students perform each semester at regional world-class venues such as New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, Northeastern University Fenway Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kresge Auditorium, or Boston Symphony Orchestra's Symphony Hall.

Previous performances include Sharing Our Humanity at NEC's Jordan Hall; the Lord of the Rings Symphony at Symphony Hall; Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy at Symphony Hall; a collaboration with Grammy-winning artists Danilo Pérez (piano) and John Patitucci (bass) at Jordan Hall; and a commissioned concerto for electric violinist Tracy Silverman by Kenji Bunch.

Past Performances

Sharing Our Humanity

New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall; November 2019

The Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra, conducted by artistic director Julius P. Williams, presents a concert centering on our shared humanity—featuring music from composers around the world and Aaron Copland's iconic Lincoln Portrait, with guest narrator Ron Savage reading excerpts from some of Abraham Lincoln's greatest speeches including the Gettysburg Address. Take a musical journey across national borders, including modern favorites such as Dearly Beloved, composed by Yoko Shimomura for the Kingdom Hearts video game, the iconic Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang and performed by Serena Harnack, enduring works such as Jean Sibelius' Finlandia, and a "sparkling celebration of life" with Voices Shouting Out by contemporary composer Nkeiru Okoye.


Signature Series: Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

Symphony Hall, Boston; April 2015 and 2019

Grammy Award–winning conductor Arnie Roth led the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra through a captivating and specially conceived program of Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy for this triumphant return to Boston's celebrated Symphony Hall. The sold-out concerts featured music from all 14 games, including beloved classics, previews from the latest releases, and a stunning high-definition video presentation of exclusive content from game developers Square Enix.


Symphonic Revolutions

Kresge Auditorium at MIT; November 7, 2014

This concert featured "Inspired by Muse," a piece for horn, orchestra, leap motion controller, keyboard, bass, and drums composed by Richard Boulanger, a Berklee professor of electronic production and design. The performance also included Stravinsky’s suite from The Firebird (1919) and selections from Michael Gandolfi’s The Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

Soundwaves: From the Sea to the Stars

Sanders Theatre, Cambridge; March 7, 2014

This concert featured "Wave," a piece composed by Vuk Kulenovic, a Berklee professor of composition, as well as award-winning works by Jennifer Higdon and DJ/composer Mason Bates, and the music of Russian heavyweight Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky.