In 1991, Manhattan School of Music inaugurated the Graduate Program in Orchestral Performance, the first accredited degree program of its kind in the United States. The program seeks to produce polished musicians of the highest artistic caliber, who are prepared intensively in the orchestral repertoire for careers as symphonic players. Students are trained to participate fully in both performance and other nonmusical aspects of life in the modern orchestra, such as orchestra governance, artistic planning, community engagement, and audience development.
The program incorporates curricula specifically designed to train the exceptional, advanced student in both performance and non-musical aspects of life in the modern orchestra. In addition to individual instruction with some of the leading players on the classical scene, these young musicians form the core unit of Chamber Sinfonia and Manhattan School of Music Symphony. Students are seated in leadership roles through competitive auditions.
Orchestral Performance students perform in side by side faculty/student chamber orchestra concerts. In addition to musical training, the curriculum focuses on audition preparation, including numerous mock audition opportunities, and guidance on the musician’s role in orchestra management and governance.
Art of Orchestral Performance Master Class Series
Each year, Orchestral Performance students have the opportunity to perform for extraordinary orchestral musicians in master classes on the Art of Orchestral Performance presented by members of international and American orchestras visiting New York City. Recent guest artists included musicians from the Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Program graduates have accepted positions with the New York Philharmonic, as well as with the Fort Wayne, Los Angeles, and Orlando Philharmonics; with the orchestras of the Chicago Lyric Opera, Kennedy Center Opera, and Metropolitan Opera; with the New World Symphony and the Charleston, Colorado, Detroit, Jacksonville, Louisiana, Nashville, Des Moines, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Virginia, and Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestras; in Germany with the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig and SWR Radio Symphony in Stuttgart; in Spain with the Seville Orchestra and the orchestra of the Palau de les Arts "Reina Sofía" in Valencia; with the Stockholm Philharmonic and the Royal Danish Opera in Scandinavia; with the KZN Philharmonic in South Africa, the New Japan and Hong Kong philharmonics in Asia, and the Auckland and Western Australian symphonies in the Pacific; and in Mexico with the Symphony Orchestra of Monterey and the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México.
One of the most essential elements of training for orchestral musicians is the art of taking auditions. Orchestral Performance majors have the opportunity to perform in regularly scheduled mock auditions during the academic year, paralleling preliminary, semifinal, and final orchestra audition standards and practices and adjudicated by program faculty and other musicians from major New York City orchestras and performing ensembles.
Specific courses and degree sequence plans can be found in the Course Catalog.
Orchestral Repertoire Coaching Course
The Orchestral Repertoire Coaching course, taught by Orchestral Performance program faculty and guests, is a four-semester, two-year sequence of coaching sessions on the craft of orchestral, ensemble, and performance techniques. The course offers intensive and focused study of and performance experience in the diverse styles and periods of the orchestral repertoire and is designed to prepare students for symphonic careers. The course offers in-depth coverage of representative works in what could be defined as the core repertoire for each instrument, chosen from the diverse styles and representative periods of the orchestral repertoire. Three formats and different environments for learning are used for coaching: weekly individual instrumental sessions taught by Program faculty; monthly instrumental “family” sectionals conducted by Manhattan School of Music faculty and guest artists; and semester's end strings and winds/brass/percussion reading rehearsals, conducted by national and international conductors. Recent conductors include Richard Auldon Clark, Guillermo Figueroa, Sidney Harth, Roger Nierenberg, Peter Oundjian, Gunther Schuller, Robert Spano, Barbara Yahr, Samuel Wong, and Manhattan School of Music resident conductor David Gilbert.
OP Program Core
Attendance is required for repertoire classes, master classes and mock auditions. Each obligation is worth 20% of the grade.
- Repertoire classes: Strings, winds and low brass will have six repertoire classes each semester, and horns and trumpets will have eight. In addition, violins will have six studio classes
- Repertoire readings: Two winds/brass/percussion readings and one full orchestra reading each semester
- Master Classes: Two master classes per year
- Mock auditions: First-year Master's students will have three mock auditions. Second-year Master's, professional students and postgraduate students will have four mock auditions per year
- Special Performances: Participate in all scheduled off-campus performances.
Musician as Educator Course
Preparation and training as teaching artists in Manhattan School of Music’s nationally recognized educational outreach program is offered in this required course. It has been designed to develop skills and offer experience as a teaching artist in elementary and middle school arts education programs. Students are exposed to a variety of pedagogical methods and materials during the process of writing and delivering classroom introductions and educational concerts in New York City schools, as part of Manhattan School of Music ’s educational outreach program, Music Teaches. As a result of their experience, several alumni have been hired as teaching artists and demonstrators within the New York Philharmonic’s Education Partnership Program. Orchestral majors are encouraged to participate in Manhattan School of Music's multifaceted outreach program, Music in Action by giving concerts in senior citizen homes, hospitals, diverse venues, and schools.
General admission information
Orchestral Performance Audition procedures and repertoire
For more information on the Orchestral Performance Program, email Abby Fennessy: firstname.lastname@example.org