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 Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, which seats approximately 2,300, and Kilbourn Hall, a smaller and more intimate performing venue.
Membership for string students in the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra (ESSO), Philharmonia (PHIL) is determined by a required Fall audition. Placement in the Graduate Conducting Orchestra (GCO) is determined by the graduate Dean. All first year string students are assigned to ESSO. In addition to performing standard orchestral repertoire, members of either orchestra comprise the pit orchestra for the fall and spring operas, as well as play major choral/orchestral works with the Eastman Rochester Chorus. Members from all three orchestras also have the unique experience of joining the Eastman Jazz Ensemble to form the Studio Orchestra, performing one concert per year. Both ESSO and PHIL participate in the annual readings of student compositions in the Spring semester.
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.