Orchestral Studies

2020 Orchestral Season

Tchaikovsky | 4th Symphony
Adams | Short Ride on a Fast Machine 
Berlioz | Symphonie Fantastique
Boulanger | D’un matin de Printemps
Rimsky Korsakov | Scheherazade
Mahler | Symphony #1 “Titan” 
Brahms | Academic Festival Overture
Gershwin | American in Paris 
Mozart | Symphony #40
Tan Dun | Internet Symphony
Bartok | Suite No. 1, Op. 3
Torke | Javelin 
Alexandra Bryant | Strange Attractors

Orchestral Experience:

The Sewanee Summer Music Festival offers two distinct, high level, serious orchestral experiences: The Cumberland Orchestra and The Sewanee Symphony. The Festival Artistic Director, along with guest conductors and the artistic leadership team, selects a range of musically and technically demanding literature for each orchestra to perform. Each ensemble is held in the highest artistic and musical standards possible, rehearsing six times per week. The orchestras are comprised of both pre-college and college festival participants. Recent conductors at the festival include – Robert Moody, Carl St. Clair, JoAnn Falletta, Andrew Grams, Karina Canellakis, Gemma New, Gene Moon, Oriol Sans, Jacomo Bairos, and Janna Hymes.

In addition to full orchestra rehearsals, students in both groups will participate in sectionals with festival faculty. This time with faculty allows for in-depth study of the selected literature and offers a unique opportunity for students to learn directly from experts in their field.

Classes and Seminars:

Students at Sewanee are offered weekly master classes in their studio as well as seminars in a range of topic areas throughout the festival. During the 2020 season, seminar topics will include college audition techniques, orchestral etiquette, mock interviews for university faculty positions, chamber ensemble rehearsal techniques, the 21st century musician, surviving and thriving in a symphony orchestra, building your freelance career, and more.

“I had a FANTASTIC experience – I gained so many life long friends and worked with amazing musicians!”


Cumberland Orchestra

The Cumberland Orchestra is a pre-professional symphony orchestra for advanced pre college and college students. Lead by gifted educators and supported by our dedicated faculty, the Cumberland Orchestra offers our pre-college and college participants the opportunity to study, learn and grow as orchestral performers, exploring signifigant literature from the symphonic cannon as well as contemporary works.  The Cumberland Orchestra performs weekly, Sunday afternoons at 2:30PM.

FAQ for orchestral studies

Q: What is the average age for festival participants?

A: Each area/studio is slightly different, however the average age for festival participants in the summer of 2019 was 18.5. Generally, we feel that the festival is best suited for students age 14-25.

Q: How do I know which orchestra I will be placed in?

A: You will be placed in an ensemble for week 1 based on your audition application. This is to ensure that practice parts can be distributed.  Once you arrive in Sewanee, there will be a seating placement audition for the remaining weeks.  Every effort will be made to rotate students, based on ability, both in assignments ( principal, assistant etc…) and orchestra.

Q: Will I get practice parts?

A: Yes, a google drive folder with practice part ( or links to parts) and ensemble assignments in the spring.

Q: I am in high school, will I automatically be in the Cumberland Orchestra?

A: Ensemble placements are based on ability and experience.  We have had college students playing in cumberland and high school students playing in symphony.  Orchestral placement is based on how you play, not how old you are.

Q: I attended SSMF in the past, should I assume I will have the same assignments and orchestral placement. 

A: No – placement is based on your current ability level and the results of an  audition.

Q: I attend a really prestigious and famous school, so I’ll always be principal in the Sewanee Symphony, right? 

A: No – placement is based on your current ability level and the results of an audition.


Sewanee Symphony

The Sewanee Symphony, is a pre-professional ensemble of college and pre college students that will study core literature, explore contemporary works, and collaborate with faculty soloists. Festival faculty guide weekly sectionals and attend rehearsals to reinforce fundamentals of orchestral performance. The Sewanee Symphony performs weekly, Sunday afternoons at 3:30PM.