Orchestra at Sewanee

The Sewanee Summer Music Festival offers two distinct, high level 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, Kalena Bovell, 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.

Orchestral Programming

The 2023 Season will include Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, Mahler 1st, Stravinsky Firebird Suite, Borodin 2nd symphony and much, much more. Our full season of orchestral programming will be announced later this fall!

Cumberland Orchestra

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The Cumberland Orchestra is a pre-professional symphony orchestra for advanced pre-college and college students. Led by gifted educators and supported by our dedicated faculty, the Cumberland Orchestra offers these participants the opportunity to learn and grow as orchestral performers, exploring significant literature from the symphonic cannon as well as contemporary works. The Cumberland Orchestra performs weekly on Friday evenings at 7:30 pm.

Sewanee Symphony

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


Chamber Music at Sewanee

A cornerstone of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival is a deep and immersive experience in the study and performance of chamber music. Each student at the festival, regardless of prior experience, will have the opportunity to perform in a chamber ensemble.

Students are placed in a chamber ensemble based on their entrance and festival placement audition. Generally, groups will rotate after two weeks, allowing for festival participants to work in different groups, and also allow for in depth study. Students rehearse daily and are coached by festival artist-faculty. Our chamber music program allows for collaborations within our instrumental program, as well as unique opportunities for performances with our OperaFest and Composition participants.

Chamber Performance Opportunities

Performing in a chamber music ensemble develops leadership skills, fosters collaboration, improves intonation, blend, and balance, and promotes high-level musical thinking. Often times, students busy in school program are unable to devote the time necessary for truly in-depth study of chamber music.  It is in the intense laboratory of the chamber ensemble that students become mature musicians, integrating their individual part and their own musical personality into a unified whole. From duos to string ensembles, wind quintets, string quartets, brass ensembles and percussion groups, the unique skills developed through chamber music carry through to every other aspect of a students performance.

Saturday chamber music on the mountain!

Students chamber concerts take place each Saturday of the festival in three locations on the campus of the University of the south – The Guerry Art Gallery, Guerry Stage, and St. Luke’s Chapel. These concerts are free and open to the public.

Run-Out Concerts to Local Venues

The festival regularly brings instrumental and vocal chamber ensembles to perform in other locations on the mountain and in the surrounding community, including the Cowan Arts Center, The Monteagle Sunday School Assembly, and Sewanee Angel Park.

Friday Evening Showcase Performances

In addition to our regular Saturday chamber music performances, our most advanced participants will have the opportunity to perform on Friday evening concerts, prior to the Cumberland Orchestra. These ticketed events are meant to showcase a variety of advanced performers in a chamber music setting, coached, and sometimes lead by festival artist faculty.