Four-week orchestra, chamber music and piano training program for talented young musicians ages fourteen through graduate school, held each summer at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Harpists have weekly lessons and chamber music assignments in addition to playing in the orchestra.
June 19—July 18, 2021
An artistic incubator where talented musicians work closely with renowned artist-faculty in an intensive yet supportive environment.
History of the SSMF
Present at the creation was a young cellist of extraordinary capacities named Martha McCrory. In the early years, McCrory filled many roles: faculty cellist, business manager, and recruiter, barnstorming her way across back roads in Alabama and Georgia in search of students.
McCrory became executive director of the center in 1963, and remained at this post for a remarkable tenure, retiring in 1998. By the end of that decade, the festival featured two student orchestras and a festival orchestra composed of faculty and advanced students. This basic structure continues to the present day.
The present Festival carries elements of both McCrady’s musical utopia and McCrory’s focus on student development. Since 2010, the leadership structure has consisted of the director and an artistic advisory committee made up of SSMF faculty. Currently, leadership is provided by 2018 Artistic Director John Kilkenny and Managing Director Hilary Dow Ward.
The impact of Sewanee is felt in concert halls, conservatories, universities and teaching studios across the United States and around the world.
Testimonial from a 2016 student:
In my amazing four weeks at Sewanee Summer Music Festival, I had so many inspiring experiences and met so many wonderful people. Sewanee was a great environment to have my first experience playing in a full-sized orchestra, and provided the perfect mix challenge and fun! As a harpist, the repertoire we played at Sewanee gave me the opportunity to learn and perform some of the most exciting parts written for harp in orchestra. While playing alongside so many talented musicians was intimidating at first, I truly came to love being a part of the orchestra by the end of the camp. Another aspect of Sewanee that I loved was learning from the incredible faculty and staff, whether it was listening to the weekly faculty concerts or participating in seminars about a broad spectrum of music-related topics. Lastly, there is truly something special about the comradely and sense of community between all of the musicians at Sewanee. Being in an environment where everyone is equally passionate about music was so inspiring, and everyone I met was so friendly and supportive. I came away from the festival feeling much more confident with my ensemble skills, as well as with a greater enjoyment for classical music and many lifelong friends. — An-Ya Olson, 2016