In addition to weekly private lessons, students in this program play in one or more of the AMFS's five orchestras. The orchestras are a mixture of all-student and student and artist-faculty players. Upon arrival in Aspen, students will audition for placement.
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.
Wind, brass, percussion, and harp players may rotate through different orchestras throughout the eight weeks. Some strings players are placed in one orchestra for the entire season. Others will rotate through several orchestras. Students age eighteen and older are required to audition for orchestra upon arrival at Aspen, though students of all ages are welcome to audition. Students under age eighteen should consult with their private teachers before auditioning. Placement in orchestra is not guaranteed for students under the age of eighteen. It may be recommended that younger or less-experienced players focus on private study or specially-designed and limited exposure to orchestra.
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 limited.
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.
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.
ASPEN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
A large symphony orchestra composed entirely of students. Concerts are directed by notable guest conductors, and soloists include star guest artists, artist-faculty members, and student competition winners. The ensemble provides its members with an important opportunity to continue to develop their orchestral playing skills while rehearsing and performing major orchestral works. The orchestra is led by ten student mentor fellows who rotate through the principal string positions and is coached by artist-faculty who hold prominent positions in top American orchestras.
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.
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.
ASPEN OPERA CENTER ORCHESTRA
A pit orchestra composed of AMFS students that performs with the prestigious Aspen Opera Center. The orchestra is led by an artist-faculty concertmaster and world-renowned conductors. The AOC performs fully-staged productions in the historic Wheeler Opera House.