Aspen Music Festival And School

Aspen Conducting Academy Back To Programs of Study /...

Important Information
  • Program offered Full Session only
  • All conductors and instrumentalists receive fellowships
  • Video conducting and instrumental audition recordings required
Fees & Deadlines
Deadline: December 8, 2021
Application open on September 15, 2021

Application Fee

$25 September 15-October 15, 2021
$60 October 16-November 15, 2021

Robert Spano, director
Asadour Santourian, program administrator

The Aspen Conducting Academy (ACA) provides participants with intensive conducting training with a skilled orchestra, assists them in gaining podium experience, and supports each individual’s development as a conductor. The heart of the Academy is the opportunity for ten to twelve conductors to work with an orchestra of experienced musicians, and to play as a member of that orchestra under the baton of program colleagues—­all under the guidance of master conductors. Participants learn by conducting a wide range of repertoire and types of performances, including orchestral concerts, concerto performances, opera master class arias and scenes, repertoire readings, and composer readings.

In summer 2021, ACA and Music Director Robert Spano, along with 2021 guest artist-faculty member Scott Terrell, was joined by guest conductors Leonard Slatkin, Ludovic Morlot, Nicholas McGegan, Hugh Wolff, and Patrick Summers. Q&A sessions were also offered with Gemma New and Vasily Petrenko. 

The Academy brings to each participant the national attention that is critical to establishing a career. Established conductors, orchestra managers, artist managers, music critics, and other music executives may come to Aspen each summer to spot the brightest emerging talent.

The Program

Each ACA participant will receive a fellowship. The participant will be active as a conductor in front of the fifty-five member Academy Orchestra, with the goal of permitting each conductor at least thirty minutes of podium time in at least six of the Academy's eight weeks. When off the podium, most conductors will play an instrument in the orchestra; however, a limited number of conductor spaces are available to pianists and non-orchestral instrumentalists.

Participants will rehearse and conduct concerts of orchestral and concerto repertoire, and opera master class scenes and/or arias. They share repertoire-reading sessions and rehearse and perform contemporary scores. All sessions are videotaped for individual use and artist-faculty review.

Beyond the podium, the Academy offers all participants an extensive curriculum covering both musical and extra-musical elements, including a set of intensive sessions on score analysis.

Academy participants are expected to attend rehearsals and concerts of the AMFS's other three orchestras, and are encouraged to organize their own performances. They also are welcome to take advantage of the full curriculum of AMFS classes. While the Academy program is intensive and demanding, averaging seven orchestral services each week, the AMFS is committed to ensuring that participants have adequate time for study and rest. With that, conductors are expected to stay focused on their core curriculum and not engage in extracurricular activities, such as concerto competitions.

Auditors may be admitted and will be welcome at all sessions, but will not conduct the orchestra. Financial assistance is not available for auditors.

Fellowships are available for instrumentalists to play as regular members of the Academy Orchestra. Interested applicants should follow the guidelines noted within their specific instrument.

Aspen Conducting Academy Program Components

  • Conducting the Academy Orchestra in readings, rehearsals, and performance
  • Coaching with master conductors
  • Evaluation with videotape of the conducting sessions
  • Observation by and meeting with AMFS guest conductors
  • Technique classes
  • Periodic classes in score reading and analysis and score preparation

Recognition Opportunities

Academy participants are eligible to be chosen for four prestigious opportunities for the 2023 season.

  • The Aspen Conductor Prize carries with it the invitation to return to Aspen the following season as assistant conductor and member of the AMFS artist-faculty.
  • These prizes carry the invitation to return to the Aspen Conducting Academy the following season on fellowship, for an additional year of intensive study:
    • The Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize
    • The James Conlon Conductor Prize – the ACA Fellowship in Honor of James Conlon, given by Mrs. Mercedes T. Bass
    • The Robert Spano Conductor Prize – the ACA Fellowship in Honor of Robert Spano, given by Mrs. Mercedes T. Bass.


All students are encouraged to participate in the music-related courses offered by the AMFS artist-faculty and staff.

How to Apply


  • Resume required
  • Two letters of recommendation required

Audition Requirements

  • Video recording showing recent conducting experience ideally demonstrating a varied selection of standard orchestral repertoire; showing front view of the conductor from a reasonable distance
  • Video recording of instrumental performance, approximately fifteen minutes in length
    • Instrumental Recording for Pianists: If you are a pianist, please submit the following repertoire. You are encouraged, but not required, to accompany soloists.
      • From Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Act I, no. 8 beginning with “Die Weisheits! lehre dieser Knaben…wie er hier, hier entsprang>"
      • From Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, the first 3 minutes of the exposition.
      • One additional solo work of your choice, no more than 10 minutes in length (optional)
  • Both conducting and instrumental recordings must have been made no earlier than September of 2019
  • Please list the date of recording in the video title (for example: “Brahms Symphony no. 1, recorded October 20, 2019”)



Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO