The Academy Festival Orchestra comprises approximately 100 of the Music Academy of the West fellows, the talented young musicians who attend the annual Summer Festival on full scholarship.
The orchestra’s members are drawn from leading schools and conservatories, and represent a complement of the world’s finest young musicians. The orchestra performs each summer under the baton of such eminent conductors as Alan Gilbert, Peter Oundjian, Leonard Slatkin, Osmo Vänskä, Matthew Aucoin, Thomas Adès, and Christoph von Dohnányi; this year’s conductors include Marin Alsop, Matthias Pintscher, and Michael Tilson Thomas. For more than a decade, the orchestra has been prepared for performance by Larry Rachleff of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Musicians from the orchestra recently participated in a partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra; each summer twelve of them are selected by audition to train and perform with the orchestra in London. Distinguished members of the Music Academy faculty, including Jorja Fleezanis, Richie Hawley, and Dennis Michel, often rehearse and perform alongside the orchestra. Several Academy Festival Orchestra concerts have been webcast live and are now available for streaming on the Music Academy’s YouTube channel.