Linköping Academic Orchestra (LAO) is the university’s own symphony orchestra, which is also a stage orchestra. It plays original works for symphony orchestra and also connects to the student amateur comedy theatre (“spex”) tradition in concerts that feature text, choreography and images. Conductor Merete Ellegaard wants the concert to appeal to several senses and for the audience to feel inspired, laugh and reflect.

The orchestra standing outside holding their instruments over the head.The orchestra includes students, alumni and other musicians with ample concert experience who want to make high-quality music and be part of a network that brings both joy and benefit. It puts on around four concerts a year and also plays at LiU’s annual academic celebrations. Over the years, LAO has enjoyed a number of inspiring collaborations with world artists such as violinist Johan Dalene and film and computer music connoisseur Orvar Säfstrom, as well as with musicians with local roots, and has also made co-productions with other orchestras.

The orchestra was founded in 1993 in connection with LiU launching a course in orchestral playing, and has since developed into a large symphonic orchestra with an extensive repertoire. In the spring of 2023, assisted by stage director Anci Hjulström, LAO became a stage orchestra.

The orchestra is part of Music at LiU, but there is also an active non-profit association linked to LAO, the purpose of which is to support its artistic activities and strengthen the social community of its members. For more information about LAO, please visit

Music at Linköping University

Music at Linköping University runs three choirs, one orchestra (LAO) and several courses in choral singing and orchestral performance. The three choirs are the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, the Linköping University Women’s Choir (Linnea) and the Linköping University Chamber Choir.

Orchestral playing

Göran Billeson

Apply to Linköping Academic Orchestra

Would you like to play high-quality music in a symphony orchestra and develop as an instrumentalist and stage performer? Bring your instrument to LiU!

As a member of LAO you will regularly meet with our instructors from Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and Östgötamusiken, as well as with stage directors. You will also get the opportunity to play together with professional musicians at concerts and rehearsals.

Orchestra rehearsal takes place on Wednesdays between 6.30 pm and 9 pm in Musicum at Campus Valla. There are also rehearsals and concerts at weekends.

For more information about the orchestra’s activities, the orchestral performance course and auditioning, please contact Merete Ellegaard or the LAO board.

Voices from the orchestra

“To improve and have fun”

Arvid Grönwall has been a horn player in Linköping Academic Orchestra (LAO) since the autumn of 2020. He is studying the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering programme at LiU.

“I applied to LAO as I wanted to find a serious orchestra to play in during my studies. The fact that LAO is a symphony orchestra makes it more interesting. As a horn player, I find the parts more interesting in symphony music than in brass and woodwind music. To me, LAO is an orchestra that challenges my orchestral playing and lets me develop musically.”

Can you describe what it feels like to give a concert and meet the audience as part of LAO?

“The concert is a driving force for rehearsal and perfecting our play. It becomes proof that the effort put in was worth it. Talking to members of the audience in the intermission or after the concert and receiving positive feedback provides confirmation. The concert also gives an adrenaline rush, because this is where getting it right really matters.”

And during rehearsals, what happens when you play together?

“Rehearsals are not only the musical experience of playing together, discovering new music, getting better at specific genres, learning to intonate better or improving your technical skills. There is also a social aspect. We have coffee breaks, we have fun together, sometimes we go for a drink after rehearsal. This makes the orchestra a tighter social group, which means that you don’t only get to know new people, it also makes the orchestra better at playing together.”

Why did you choose the horn as your instrument?

“That was more or less a coincidence. I started playing the cornet as a playful leisure activity when I was in elementary school. When I was 10, I had to pick an instrument and start taking lessons. I attended an open day and tried out almost every instrument you could be taught in Linköping. I recall finding it hard to get any sound out of the woodwind instruments, so I opted for brass. The tuba was clumsy, and my arms were too short for the trombone. The trumpet would perhaps have been the most obvious choice, but I found the horn teacher really good, and it was easier to get sound out of the horn than the trumpet.”



“Playing together is fantastic”

Lisa Henriksson, 30, plays the bassoon and is the president of Linköping Academic Orchestra. She is a LiU alumna with a Master of Science in Chemical Biology, and currently works at Saab as a software developer and team leader. Lisa has been playing with LAO since 2012, and the orchestra has become a prominent feature in her life.

“I knew I wanted to keep playing when I moved to Linköping to study. It’s a really good way for a new student to get to meet other people from other programmes, and alumni.”

And during rehearsals, what happens when you play together?

“Playing together with other people is absolutely fantastic. As there are many students in the orchestra, it’s an orchestra in perpetual change in terms of members. Having new, young musicians turn up every autumn is always exciting.”

Why did you choose the bassoon as your instrument?

“Before I took up the bassoon, I had played lots of other instruments, but the bassoon stuck with me. I like that it’s an unusual instrument, and I enjoy being the stable ground that the bassoon provides in the woodwind section of a symphony orchestra.”


“The orchestra taught me Swedish”

Benjamin Everett, 32, has been playing the violin in LAO since 2016. He is a LiU alumnus from the Master’s Programme in Aeronautical Engineering, who is currently an engineer and lives in Linköping. Benjamin is from England and English is his mother tongue.

“In the beginning I found it hard to understand what to do without knowing Swedish, but I had a few friends who helped me a lot with the language. The orchestra is one reason my Swedish is so good today.”

What made you apply to LAO?

“I attended a concert where LAO played when I first came to Linköping, and since I played the violin I applied to LAO the following term. I had already made many friends in various orchestras, so I knew that was a good reason for joining LAO also.”

Can you describe what it feels like to give a concert and meet the audience as part of LAO?

“It’s always great to finish a project you’ve been working on for a long time with a concert on stage with lighting and an audience, in a beautiful venue. In LAO, we’ve set up many types of musical productions together with choirs and other orchestras and ensembles, and it’s a very special feeling during the concert, with the powerful sound.”

And during rehearsals, what happens when you play together?

“Playing music together with other people is really special. You learn to listen to and collaborate with others, and there’s always plenty of discussions and laughs.”

Why did you choose the violin as your instrument?

“I started when I was really young, this is what I know, and of course I think it has a beautiful sound!”



f you play an orchestral instrument, you can take the orchestral playing course for up to four semesters at LiU. Each term corresponds to 7,5 credits and is based on participation in LAO’s activities.

Linköping University Symphony Orchestra, 30 credits

The Linköping University Symphony Orchestra course is intended for instrumentalists who play an instrument that is conventionally included in a symphony orchestra, and who want to develop as orchestra musicians at an advanced amateur level. It includes rehearsals, concerts, seminars and lectures. 


Rehearsal rooms - Musicum

Artistic director

Linköping Academic Orchestra is conducted by Assistant Director Musices Merete Ellegaard. She is the orchestra’s artistic director and as such she is responsible for developing its repertoire, and for collaboration with our inspiring instrumental coaches and soloists. Read more about Merete Ellegaard at