AOA: Highlighting Orchestral Activity in Our State

Thank you for taking the time to read this message from your Alabama Orchestra Association. I know how hectic the start to new school year can be, and I for one am already looking forward to some opportunities to rest and rejuvenate!

The start to the school year is always a busy time, and while those of us in the orchestral world might not be out there on the marching field, we are certainly marching towards our upcoming All-State Orchestra auditions. With a great lineup of conductors and some fantastic repertoire, students will have an experience like no other right here in their own state. We are excited to return to the University of Alabama for our 2020 All-State Orchestra Festival being held from February 6-9, 2020.

Auditions for our All-State Festival have changed this year with a new emphasis on scales and etudes, the combining of audition material for our two full orchestras, and additional audition dates in early- November for our wind, brass, and percussion students. The hope is that this will help alleviate any conflicts students might have with their marching band obligations. Wind, brass, and percussion students will need to register for an audition time by October 18, 2019. I would once again like to thank my colleagues in the Alabama Bandmasters Association for sharing their All-State Band materials with us. We hope that by combining our audition materials, more band students will audition for All-State Orchestra if for no other reason that they get a practice run for their All-State Band audition. And who knows, maybe they will make All-State Orchestra as well! Students that have a successful audition and are selected for the All-State Orchestra Festival will need to accept their spot by early December. Exact dates can be found on our website. Financial Aid forms will also be due at that time.

An exciting part of the All-State Orchestra Festival is the premiere performance of the winning composition from our annual Composition Contest. I am pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s competition is Alabama’s very own Dr. Mark Lackey. Mark currently serves as Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Samford University. We look forward to having him in residency at the festival and know that our students will enjoy preparing and performing his work, Reef.

The AMEA conference in January 2020 is the perfect pick-me-up as we transition into our spring semester. Richard Meyer, will be our headline clinician this year, and will be supported by a wonderful line up of clinicians who will present a wide variety of sessions that we hope will appeal to both our membership and the general membership at large. If you have not yet done so, this would be a great time to renew your membership and register for the conference.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all the wonderful work being done by the Alabama Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. They are doing our state a great service with their support of, and advocacy for, string and orchestra programs. Their annual Honor Strings Festival will take place at the Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center in Gadsden, AL from November 15-17. For more information about the festival and the other work being done by the Alabama chapter of ASTA, please visit their website at:

Finally, your AOA wants to hear from you. We would love to feature you, your program, your upcoming events, and anything else you feel should be shared on our social media platforms. We want to continue to highlight all the orchestral activity occurring in our state. Please help us make this happen.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you, and hope to see you at an upcoming event.


Guy Harrison