Aspen Conducting Academy

Important Information

  • Program offered Full Session only
  • All conductors and instrumentalists receive fellowships
  • Video conducting and instrumental audition recordings required

Fees & Deadlines

Deadline: December 1, 2023
Application opens on September 15, 2023

Application Fee

$30 September 15—October 15, 2023
$60 October 16–December 1, 2023

Robert Spano, director

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 eight to ten 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 renowned conductors. Participants learn by conducting a wide range of repertoire and types of performances, including orchestral concerts, concerto performances, opera class arias and scenes, repertoire readings, and composer readings.

In summer 2023, ACA Director and AMFS Music Director Robert Spano, along with guest artist-faculty members Federico Cortese and Mark Stringer were joined by guest conductor George Manahan and Patrick Summers, co-artistic director of the Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS program. 

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 55-member Academy Orchestra, with the goal of permitting each conductor at least 30 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 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 are not eligible to participate in 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 the Orchestra/Instrumental Program of Study for their specific instrument.


  • Conducting the Academy Orchestra in readings, rehearsals, and performance
  • Coaching with renowned 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
  • Conducting students are encouraged to attend studio classes, performance classes, and other offerings from AMFS artist-faculty 


Recognition Opportunities

Academy participants are eligible to be chosen for four prestigious opportunities for the 2024 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.

  • The following 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


How to Apply


  • Resume required
  • Two letters of recommendation required

Audition Requirements

  • Videos must be submitted as INDIVIDUAL VIDEO TRACKS.

  • 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

  • Both conducting and instrumental recordings must have been made no earlier than September of 2022

  • Please list the date of recording in the video title (for example: “Brahms Symphony No. 1, recorded October 20, 2022”)