Summer String Institutes

Applications for SSI 2019 are now open!

Apply Now

Prep Institute, July 29 – August 2, 2019

Jennifer Van Petten, Conductor

for rising 4th – 6th graders

Senior Institute WEEK 1 , August 5 – August 9, 2019

Senior Institute WEEK 2, August 12 – 16, 2019

Piotr Gajewski, Conductor

Apply for one or both weeks!

For rising 9th graders through rising college freshmen

Junior Institute, August 19 – 23, 2019

Victoria Gau, Conductor

For rising 6th – 10th graders

For more information on NP’s Summer String Institutes, please contact Isabel Carpio at


National Philharmonic created the Summer String Institutes in 1998 to nurture the skills and talents of young musicians and encourage their participation in classical music now and throughout their lives. This summer, join National Philharmonic principal players and other distinguished faculty for a challenging and exciting week of chamber and orchestral music. The Senior Institute Orchestra, led by National Philharmonic Maestro Piotr Gajewski, has been cited by the Washington Post as a “precise and elegant ensemble.” The Junior Institute Orchestra provides the same intense and high quality experience for younger students. While Summer String Institute students work on ambitious repertoire to develop true professionalism, they also enjoy camaraderie and the adventure of creating great music.

In a day-camp arrangement, each National Philharmonic Summer String Institute is an intensive week of orchestra rehearsals, chamber music rehearsals and coachings, private lessons, and movement classes, culminating with performances by the orchestra and chamber ensembles.


This year’s Institutes are at Trinity Lutheran Church, 11200 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda, MD 20852 (just north of Tuckerman Lane)

SAMPLE DAILY SCHEDULE – Junior and Senior Institutes

9:00 Sectional Rehearsal
10:35 Coached Chamber Music
11:40 Private Lesson
12:45 Lunch
1:25 Movement Class
2:30 Chamber Music Practice Time
3:35 Orchestra Rehearsal
5:00 Dismissal

The Institutes’ schedules are filled with instruction and rehearsals and do not allow for much practice time. Therefore, it is imperative that students prepare assigned music ahead of time.

Prep Institute

Under the direction of local youth orchestra conductor and educator, Jennifer Van Petten, rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders will engage in a weeklong journey focused on enriching the orchestral, chamber, and solo musician.

The institute will run 9-3:30 pm daily.


Students are required to participate in all Institute activities, including the following concerts for Junior and Senior Institutes:
Friday of each week:
1:30 p.m. – Informal Chamber Music Concert
7:00 p.m. – Evening Orchestra Concert

Prep Institute will culminate in an informal afternoon performance for families.

Principal Faculty (subject to change)

Piotr Gajewski, conductor. Music Director & Conductor of the National Philharmonic, Gajewski guest conducts in the USA, Canada, England, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Awarded a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship at Tanglewood, Gajewski’s teachers have included Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier, and Maurice Abravanel.

Victoria Gau, conductor. Artistic Director and Conductor of the Capital City Symphony, Artistic Director of the Takoma Ensemble. Youth orchestra conducting positions have included the Akron (OH) Youth Symphony and Young Virtuosi of the DC Youth Orchestra Program. Gau holds degrees in Viola Performance and Conducting from the Oberlin Conservatory. She is a frequent conductor of youth orchestra regional festivals.

Jennifer Van Petten, conductor and Prep Institute Director. Currently conductor of the PVYO Sinfonia, Mrs. Van Petten is the former conductor of Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra’s Chamber Strings and Young Artists Orchestra. She was a finalist in the 2010-2011 Gazette’s “My Favorite Teacher” award. In 2005, Mrs. Van Petten was the recipient of the Nancy Dworkin Award for “Outstanding Service to Youth” as well as a finalist for the “Agnes Meyer Teaching Award.”

Isiah Johnson, music movement class. On the dance staff at the University of Maryland, Johnson is an active performer, composer, arranger, and piano teacher.

Lori Barnet, cello. Principal cellist and coordinator of chamber music for the National Philharmonic, Barnet also plays with the Wolf Trap Opera Orchestra, the Contemporary Music Forum, and teaches at George Washington University.

Katherine Budner, violin. Member of the National Philharmonic for over 15 years, Budner is a former concertmaster of the US Air Force Symphony Orchestra and has soloed with that group. She is a free-lance musician in the DC area and teaches privately.

Douglas Dubé, violin. Concertmaster of Baltimore Opera Orchestra and Washington Concert Opera, Dubé also plays with the Washington Opera Orchestra, National Gallery Orchestra, and Wolf Trap Orchestra.

Jeffery Koczela, bass. Principal bassist with the Washington Bach Consort and Alexandria Symphony. Koczela teaches at Howard University and performs with the Washington Opera, the Wolf Trap Orchestra, the National Symphony, and other ensembles in the DC area.

Mark Pfannschmidt, viola/violin. Violist with the National Philharmonic and other area ensembles, Pfannschmidt is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Catholic University. He is a former member of the US Marine Chamber Orchestra.

Judy Silverman, viola/violin. Associate Principal violist of the National Philharmonic, Silverman has received the American String Teachers’ Association’s Teacher of the Year award and the MCYO’s Service to Students award.

Kerry Van Laanen, cello. Cellist with the Washington Opera, Baltimore Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Orchestra, and the National Philharmonic, Van Laanen also teaches privately in the area.

Julius Wirth, viola/violin. Principal Viola with the National Philharmonic, Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Wirth is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the Peabody Conservatory.


Week 1:
Grieg, Holberg Suite
Mozart, K138
Britten, Simple Symphony
Vivaldi, Cello Concerto in A minor, RV418

Week 2:
Suk, Serenade for Strings
Piazolla, Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Mendelssohn, String Symphony No. 2 in D Major
Bartok, Roumanian Folk Dances

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