The Free State Symphony Orchestra is a professional ad hoc orchestra. Traditionally the professional core of the orchestra consists of the music teachers and free-lance musicians. The core is supplemented by some of the best young instrumentalists in the province. This provides a unique opportunity to young musicians from all backgrounds to gain invaluable professional experience by playing in the orchestra. It could be argued that no other orchestral music education programme in South Africa has contributed more to orchestral music than the one in the Free State.
Previously known as the PACOFS Orchestra, it existed for many years as the result of a unique tri-partite collaborative agreement between the Performing Arts Council of the Free State (PACOFS), the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Free State Education Department (MUSICON). After Pacofs withdrew their financial support in 2000, a number of visionary people within the orchestra, as well prominent supporters from the private sector, the UFS and the Musicon (now part of the Ministry of Arts, Science and Culture of the Free State Government) donated their time and effort to ensure the continuance of the orchestra’s activities as a not-for-profit organization. As part of the University of the Free State’s ever deepening involvement in the Free State community, the UFS demonstrated their commitment to the continued existence of the orchestra by providing the management support of the FSSO since 2003.