Program of Study

2014 Applications Now Open

Click here to go to Application Portal

Sewanee Summer Music Festival

Sewanee Summer Music Festival offers an intensive program of study. Students are expected to attend the full month-long session. Rehearsal, performance, practice and study time are essentials to musical development, carefully balanced at the Festival.


Orchestral Study

he orchestral program is at the heart of the Sewanee experience. SSMF maintains two full orchestras. Each rehearses daily and performs a program of challenging repertoire every week. In addition, the Festival Orchestra, comprised of faculty and our most advanced students, performs three times during the summer.

Sewanee Symphony, led by renowned guest conductors
Cumberland Orchestra, led by the SSMF Resident Conductor

The Sewanee Symphony, for our most advanced students, is a pre-professional ensemble introducing students to the real world of orchestra life. Some of the most demanding orchestral repertoire, along with exciting new works, is led by renowned weekly guest conductors.

The Cumberland Orchestra performs a broad range of standard and new symphonic repertoire. This orchestra provides training in the skills necessary for successful orchestra musicians—ensemble, intonation development, rhythmic precision.

Orchestral assignments are made by the faculty each week and are based on ongoing assessments of students’ strengths, educational needs, and the repertoire. Our program is highly individualized, assuring that every student gains needed experience in a variety of roles within the orchestra.


Chamber Music Study

Chamber music is at the heart of our program and, more than anything, sets the Sewanee experience apart. We know that the study and performance of chamber music often does more to shape the musical lives of our students than any other experience. It is in the intense laboratory of the chamber ensemble that students become mature musicians, integrating their individual part and their own musical personality into a unified whole. From duos to small chamber orchestras, string quartets and wind quintets, the unique skills developed through chamber music are found nowhere else.

Every Sewanee student is assigned to a chamber ensemble each week, working daily with a faculty coach. At the end of the week ensembles perform for the camp on Student Chamber Music night. A panel of student judges selects ensembles for one of several public performances, including weekly concerts in the Guerry Garth, a beautiful outdoor cloister near the main quadrangle of campus. “Making Garth” is a mark of distinction for young artists and a motivator for their work each week.

Through our Chamber Music Program, students learn to prepare works on a time schedule, to perform confidently and comfortably, and, of course, to enjoy and learn from the performances of others.


Private Study and Practice

All students receive a weekly private lesson with one of our artist – faculty. Faculty members work closely with their studios, and extra master classes are a frequent occurrence.

Student practice takes place during unscheduled morning and later afternoon hours. Dorm rooms are the usual practice space, with other rooms around campus available as needed. Students work with their teachers to set expectations about practice appropriate for their age and ability level.



Piano Program

The SSMF Piano Program emphasizes collaborative piano and is designed for advanced high school and college students with good sight-reading facility and a strong interest in chamber music. Piano students receive close attention and twice weekly lessons from SSMF faculty. All pianists spend significant time working in chamber ensembles, with frequent performing opportunities. Some perform piano parts with the orchestras. Pianists are expected to learn substantial amounts of repertoire quickly, and to perform major works each week, so significant practice time is required.

The daily schedule for pianists includes concentrated morning practice time, afternoon chamber ensemble rehearsals and coaching, and other classes. Class material includes master classes in piano and other topics relevant to young musicians, and are often taken with other SSMF students.

Secondary piano lessons are available to orchestra instrumentalists as studio space allows. Pianists who play an orchestral instrument are encouraged to play with one of the orchestras.

SSMF is offering two piano programs in 2014:

Pre-Collegiate Piano Program (June 29 – July 12, 2014): This two-week program offers and intense experience of lessons, classes, and performing opportunities, with ample practice time and close work with faculty and fellow students.
Advanced Piano Program (June 21 – July 20, 2014): This four-week program for advanced high school, college, and graduate students emphasizes collaborative piano and chamber ensembles, along with significant practice time and frequent performing opportunities including orchestral piano when needed. Enrollment is limited to twelve.



Advanced Chamber Ensemble Scholarship Program

Students currently in a string quartet, piano quartet, wind or brass quintet are invited to apply to Sewanee as an ensemble. Ensembles selected for this program will work together for the entire summer and prepare special recital performances, in addition to participating in regular SSMF activities.

Scholarship award: $2000 per student, with the possibility of additional aid to meet exceptional need.

Duties: Students should expect 4-8 hours weekly of extra duties, including assisting faculty with sectionals and studio classes, work with students needing extra help, performing at community engagement events, etc.

To apply as an ensemble, choose “Chamber Ensemble” as your discipline in the Musiccas application process. Each member of the Ensemble must also apply as an individual to SSMF in their specific discipline.



Daily Schedule

8:00 AM Yoga, Tai Chi, stretching, or studio warm-up
9 – 11 am Cumberland Orchestra rehearsal
9:30 AM Sewanee Symphony rehearsal
1 – 3 pm Chamber ensemble coaching and rehearsal
3 – 5 pm Practice time, lessons, studio classes, special classes; recreation & relaxation
Evening Concerts, rehearsals, or social activities

While our daily schedule is packed with activity, we make sure to take time out for fun. One day each week is set aside for relaxation, with an optional field trip for hiking, caving, or swimming. Our Director of Residential Life plans many small activities: early morning trail runs, dorm movie nights, water balloon fights, ultimate Frisbee, and other special events our students request.

Because the Pre-Collegiate Piano Program follows a different timeline and has different goals than the Advanced Piano Program, the typical daily schedule is altered. Piano students in this program can expect their daily schedules to rotate based on the day of the week and on their individual goals for the program. Each day provides a mix of individual- and ensemble- oriented activities.


Elective Study

Extra-curricular classes are presented during the Festival and cover a wide range of topics. Classes for 2014 will include some of the following, as well as others based on student interest and faculty expertise:

  • Physical Health and Injury Avoidance
  • Channeling Performance Anxiety into Focused Energy
  • Business Skills
  • Composition, including use of ProTools, Finale, and other music software
  • Conducting
  • Audition preparation
  • Career possibilities in a changing musical landscape


College Credit

A maximum of four credit hours may be earned through the University of the South in orchestra, chamber music, and applied music. Only students already enrolled in a U.S. college or university are eligible for credit. If you are interested in pursing college credit at the University of the South for Summer 2014, please fill out the Interest Form below. For reference, application for credit will need to be submitted online to the SSMF cloud folder between April 15, 2014 and May 30, 2014 to complete registration.

A webform by Podio – click here to get yours

Nashville & Franklin Graphic Design and Web Development by JLB.