Neil Varon, conductor
The Eastman School of Music has three orchestras, regularly performing repertoire representative of all musical style periods. Two performing venues at Eastman allow students and faculty to present concerts in an acoustically fine and artistically well-conceived concert space: the newly-renovated Eastman Theatre, which seats approximately 3,000, and Kilbourn Hall, a smaller and more intimate performing venue.
Third and fourth year undergraduates and graduate students play in the Eastman Philharmonia (PHIL) and the Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra (PCO). In addition to performing standard orchestral repertoire, members of Philharmonia comprise the pit orchestra for the fall and spring operas, as well as playing major works written for choral/orchestral collaboration. Members from all three orchestras also have the unique experience of joining the Eastman Jazz Ensemble to form the Studio Orchestra. Studio Orchestra performs one concert per year, playing new works by guest artists and jazz composition students.
All string players are required to audition for participation in Eastman’s orchestras. Non-string players are assigned to the orchestras by their studio teachers. Neil Varon, Director of Orchestral activities at Eastman, oversees the orchestral program and serves as primary conductor of all the orchestras.