First Annual Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra High School of Distinction Named

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is pleased to announce the awardees of the First Annual Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra High School Orchestra of Distinction program.  High school orchestras from Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties were invited to submit their top orchestras to participate in the new program this fall.  First round participants submitted an anonymous, recorded audition that was judged by local high school orchestra experts.  Eight orchestras proceeded to the semi-final round of judging.  Judges attended the Winter Concerts performed at each of the semi-finalist schools.

“It was a pleasure to witness each school’s Winter Concert,” said Director of Education Leia Barrett.  “The poise and professionalism of all final round participants was incredible.”

Congratulations to the following six schools who were named semi-finalists:

Orange County:

Colonial High School

Cypress Creek High School

Dr. Phillips High School

Olympia High School

Seminole County:

Trinity Preparatory School

Osceola County:

St. Cloud High School

This year’s Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra High School Orchestra of Distinction, directed by Laurie Bitters, is Winter Park High School. “This young Orchestra is superb.  Under the baton of their teacher-director Laurie Bitters, the students play way beyond their years,” said Dr. Mary Palmer, UCF Professor Emerita and Education Chair of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Board of Directors.

A special award was also presented to the Osceola County School for the Arts, naming them the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra High School Orchestra in the Wings, directed by Randall LoveDr. Palmer stated, “These young musicians are on the edge of greatness!  We look forward to working with them throughout the coming year.”

Both schools will be recognized at the final Classics concert  “Pictures at an Exhibition” and will be ongoing partners with the Philharmonic.  Students will be featured in upcoming OPO events and will engage directly with the professional musicians of our Orchestra.

For more information about this program, please contact Director of Education Leia Barrett at (407) 896.6700, ext. 232 or


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At Osceola County School of the Arts, the announcement generated lots of excitement!  Students, teachers, administrators and OPO guests celebrated together.  Adults pictured from left:  Pam Haas, Osceola District Arts Resource Teacher; Debbie Fahmie, Osceola District Fine and Performing Arts Resource Teacher; Mindy Curtis; Dr. Mary Palmer, OPO Board of Directors; Kristy Doyle-Turner, Friends of the OPO; Miss Chandra Evens, Principal; Dr. Mark Theiland, Orchestra Coach; Randall Love, Orchestra Director.


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Orchestra students at Winter Park High School were working in small groups at the time of the surprise announcement!  Here, the cello section is pictured along with (left to right):  Laurie Bitters, Orchestra Director; Dr. Mary Palmer, OPO Board of Directors; Sarah Klevorn, Orchestra Assistant Director; Tim Smith, Principal