Sewanee Summer Music Festival

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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.





2022 Program Dates

June 19—July 18, 2021

4 or more weeks
Application Deadline
Rolling deadline, applications accepted until full
Harp Instructors
Ms. Paul Bressman, Ms. Rachel Miller
11-13, 14-18, College
Advanced Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Type of Harp
Pedal harp
Students must provide instrument—rentals are available
Residency Options
All participants reside overnight
Dorms at the University of the South
$4924 tuition, room, board (travel to and from the festival not included)
Financial Aid
Yes, partial scholarships are available
What makes this camp experience unique is:
Chamber music and orchestral experience as well as weekly private lessons.
This camp is perfect for:
Students wanting an immersion in all aspects of harp performance.
Students come back year after year for our camp's:
Beautiful setting and comprehensive musical experience.
More info

Sewanee is…

An artistic incubator where talented musicians work closely with renowned artist-faculty in an intensive yet supportive environment.
An inclusive community designed to offer students the chance to learn and grow together with wonderful colleagues from across the world. An international festival, we welcome students from across the country and all 50 states to the Domain each summer.
In residence on the bucolic campus of the University of the South, one of the nations premiere liberal arts colleges. 13,000 acres of hiking, biking, and breathtaking mountain views inspire the artist in everyone.

History of the SSMF

Its predecessor was the remarkable, though short­-lived, Cumberland Forest Festival of 1950-­51. After a six­-year stillness on the Mountain, University Vice-­Chancellor Edward McCrady stepped forward to restore the program. Edward McCrady had a Jeffersonian range of interests. He was a scientist, an architect of considerable skill, an administrator; and, like Jefferson, an amateur violinist. McCrady had visions of creating a musical utopia in Sewanee when he resurrected the idea of a summer festival in 1957, the first season of the present Sewanee Summer Music Festival. Known then as the Sewanee Summer Music Center, the institute was closely allied with the Chattanooga Symphony. Julius Hegyi, then conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony, was the first director of SSMC.

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