Aspen Music Festival And School

Orchestra / Instrumental

The Aspen Music Festival and School offers orchestra students the opportunity to play alongside or in a section led by artist-faculty from major U.S. orchestras or as principal in a variety of ensembles. Orchestras perform weekly in the 2,050-seat Benedict Music Tent with prominent conductors and soloists. The rehearsal and performance schedule is rigorous, and performances are at a professional standard. In addition, all students receive weekly private lessons and have the opportunity to participate in chamber music. Click here for details. 

Aspen Chamber Symphony

A chamber-sized symphony composed of AMFS artist-faculty members and students, in side-by-side performance. It is led by world-renowned conductors and joined for most concerts by star guest soloists. Repertoire consists of standard and contemporary works for the chamber symphony. Performances are Fridays at 5:30 pm. 

Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra

A large symphony orchestra led by fellowship principals. Concerts are directed by notable guest conductors, and soloists include star guest artists, artist-faculty members, and student competition and prize-winners. Performances are Wednesdays at 5:30 pm.

Aspen Festival Orchestra

A large symphony orchestra composed of AMFS artist-faculty members and students in side-by-side performance. It is led by world-renowned conductors and joined for most concerts by star guest soloists. Repertoire consists of standard and contemporary works for symphony orchestra. Performances are Sundays at 4 pm. 

Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra

The Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra is the centerpiece of Aspen’s conductor-training program. The orchestra is guided by Music Director Robert Spano, visiting master conductors, and the next generation of up-and-coming conducting talents, who perform in the orchestra when off the podium. The orchestra is led by an artist-faculty concertmaster. Activities include weekly orchestral concerts, concerto performances, opera scenes master classes, repertoire readings, and a family concert. Performances are Mondays at 4 pm. 

Aspen Opera Theater Orchestra

An orchestra composed of specially-selected students from the ACS, AFO, and AFO orchestras that performs with the prestigious Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS (AOTVA) program. The orchestra is led by an artist-faculty concertmaster and world-renowned conductors. The AOTVA program performs fully and semi-staged productions in the historic Wheeler Opera House, Benedict Music Tent, and Harris Concert Hall.

 

ORCHESTRA ASSIGNMENTS AND ROTATIONS

Winds, Brass, Percussion, and Harp (WBPH) students will rotate through the orchestras described above as the repertoire calls for it, and are eligible to perform on special assignments with faculty and guest artists, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, or the Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS orchestra. Certain WBPH fellows may be designated by faculty as non-rotating (e.g. Piccolo, flute, English horn, 3rd horn, and tuba fellows may be designated as non-rotating members of AFO.) Most WBPH students perform weekly, repertoire depending.

String students generally remain within their assigned orchestra for the duration of their residency though can be selected to perform on special assignments with faculty and guest artists, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, or the Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS orchestra. Strings students can request a week off from orchestra, though not guaranteed. 

Through an orchestral placement audition, a student can earn a spot in the Assistant Principal Pool. These students are selected to sit assistant principal for a certain number of weeks, matching up with one artist-faculty member principal and then rotating back into the section once a new faculty principal comes into that orchestra, or for one Half Session. The Assistant Principal Pool has an unspecified number of members, encouraging selection based only on students who are qualified. When not sitting Assistant Principal, these students will rotate through the second and third stands, depending on the number of members in the Pool.

Though the AMFS does offer a Half Session, all students are strongly encouraged to attend for the full eight-week season as orchestral opportunities for Half Session instrumentalists are restricted due to the orchestra rotation calendar and available seating.

Orchestral students who are preparing for a professional orchestral audition may have the opportunity to participate in an orchestral excerpt master class led by Music Director Robert Spano. Students must be nominated for participation by their Aspen teacher. Space is limited.

Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO