Sewanee WinterFest

Offered Digitally

January 3-8, 2021

Final Application Deadline December 15th, 2020

Instrumental Program

John Kilkenny, Program Director, SSMF Director

Composition Intensive

Jorge Variego, Program Director

Conducting Intensive

Gene Moon, Program Director

Opera Intensive

Laura Brooks Rice, Program Director & Master Teacher

The Sewanee WinterFest is a one-week program focused on fostering community and connection among talented young instrumentalists, opera singers, composers, and conductors. We seek to help artists reboot, renew, and prepare for the next phase of their professional career. We will bring together our outstanding SSMF faculty, along with acclaimed guest artists who, together, will shape an extraordinary week. The program will have a dual focus – we will provide outstanding musical training in a digital space, including mock auditions, mock interviews, sessions on programming, designing and curating a festival, instrumental and vocal master classes, score study, and more. However, beyond musicianship, this unique and immersive program will focus on a range of important topics facing young artists today, including:

  • Music, community engagement, and inclusiveness
  • Career development resources – going beyond talent
  • Mindfulness and thoughtful practice for busy musicians
  • Defining Advocacy in the 21st century
  • Discovering purpose, mission and vision

Our instrumental, composition, and conducting programs are designed for students age 16-28. For more information about our Opera Program, visit our Opera Intensive page.

Since its inception over 60 years ago, the Sewanee Summer Music Festival has been a launching pad for the next generation of talented artist-citizens. While we are expanding beyond our regular summer season and offering this program digitally, the core of what we do remains the same. We hope you will join us in January, and look forward to welcoming you digitally, to the mountain!

Program information


The Sewanee WinterFest will use as an application platform for all programs. In order to provide greater access to the WinterFest, and in recognition of the challenges our community is facing, THERE IS NO APPLICATION FEE.


$385.00 – please note there is no application fee for the Sewanee WinterFest

Sample Schedule:

After a welcome and “getting to know you” session on Jan. 3, each day of the winter festival will run from approximately 9:30 am—4:00 pm. EST. Each day will include large group work, plenary activities and area focused special. Small group sessions will include master classes, performance practice, mock auditions, etc. Selected evening performances are also planned.


There will be both pre-recorded and live performances throughout the week, including student showcase concerts, alumni events, and faculty performances. More details will be available soon.

Auditor and Day Pass Options

There will be options for students to purchase a day pass and auditor pass for all sessions. Day pass and auditors can attend, but not participate in collaborative projects, masterclasses, etc. Information for auditors and day pass options will be announced in December.

Conducting Intensive

Under the guidance of Dr. Gene Moon and designed for aspiring professional conductors, academic conductors and music educators seeking professional development, the WinterFest conducting program will focus on baton technique, score study, music theory, historical interpretations, rehearsal technique, and career development. Guest conductors will share their wealth of wisdom and knowledge on the craft of conducting and offer opportunities for discussion and inquiry. 

In addition to program-specific work, conducting students will engage across the program, learning from colleagues, and attending seminars on performance, mindfulness in music, career development, and leadership.

Works to be studied
Higdon: Blue Cathedral 
Mozart: Overture to Magic Flute  
Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite (original for 13 instruments)
Still: Afro American Symphony, 1st movement 
Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique Mvmts 1 and 5

Conducting Faculty

Gene Moon
Program Director

Kalena Bovell

Composition Intensive

Our composition program will offer emerging young composers the chance to work with a diverse array of creative leaders in the field of composition. Program Director Dr. Jorge Variego will curate an immersive week that will explore many aspects of composition study, including chamber, orchestral, wind band, solo, and film scoring. Collaborations with festival participants and the chance to demonstrate current projects will round out this extraordinary week.

Composition Faculty

For more information about our programs, please contact