The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra: High School Orchestra of Distinction program provides recognition, encouragement, and support to outstanding high school orchestras in Central Florida. By participating, schools receive special opportunities for learning and growth, in addition to valuable positive feedback from professional musicians and educators.
The High School Orchestra of Distinction program was developed to showcase the excellent musicianship and instructors of Central Florida high schools, while also providing valuable insight from our professional musicians to inspire and delight our community’s students.
OPO musicians will serve as adjudicators throughout the entire process, providing valuable encouragement, support and feedback on each school’s written application, anonymous sound samples, and live performances.
Two orchestras will receive the honor of being named the High School Orchestra of Distinction and the High School Orchestra in the Wings, respectively. Both schools will receive tremendous partnering opportunities with the Orlando Philharmonic!
High school orchestras from Central Florida are eligible to apply for the program.
Applications for the 2020-2021 program will be posted later this year.
Orchestra of Distinction: 2020 Award Winners
The 2020 Orchestra of Distinction Award was awarded Boone High School’s Chamber Strings, a school in the Orange County Public School District led by Stephen Cook. The principal at Boone High School was Dusty Johns.
The runner-up for 2020, the High School Orchestra in the Wings, was Lake Nona High School’s Symphonic Orchestra, a school in the Orange County Public School District led by Vinny Conrod. The principal at Lake Nona High School was Martha Chang.
“The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is proud to work with our Central Florida educators and recognize outstanding music programs in our community. We look forward to working with our 2020 Orchestra of Distinction and watching these students partner with Philharmonic musicians,” said Executive Director Paul Helfrich.
Orchestra of Distinction: 2017 Award Winners
The top orchestra receives the High School Orchestra of Distinction award. The 2017 award was Timber Creek High School, a school in the Orange County Public School District led by Staci Conkling. Timber Creek High School boasts multiple orchestras, including programs before, during, and after-school. The orchestra program has received multiple accolades from local and state-wide organizations, and regularly commissions new orchestral works and hosts nationally acclaimed clinicians.
The runner-up for 2017, the High School Orchestra in the Wings, was the Trinity Preparatory School Chamber Orchestra, led by Maureen May. The Trinity Preparatory School Orchestra program is a 5-tiered program for grades 6-12. All grade levels have the opportunity to participate in all levels, with students regularly representing the school at All-State, in area youth orchestras, and on local, state, and national platforms.
Orchestra of Distinction: 2016 Award Winners
The first-ever High School Orchestra of Distinction winner was the Winter Park High School Philharmonic, led by Laurie Bitters. The Winter Park High School orchestra program includes five orchestras. The Winter Park Philharmonic has received “Superior” ratings at both the district and state levels for the past ten years. They have even been chosen to perform at national venues such as the Midwest Conference and the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Orchestra Festival.
Osceola County School for the Art’s Symphonic Orchestra was named the 2016 High School Orchestra in the Wings, led by Rueff Frazao. Osceola County School for the Arts (OCSA), serving grades 6-12, has been an “A” school every year since its inception. US News and World Report ranks OCSA as one of the “Best High Schools in America.” As an arts magnet, orchestra plays a huge role, with more than 200 students involved in six orchestral ensembles.