By Isabelle Lee

Jim Kollias, orchestra director at Beckman High School, had brought his high school orchestras to perform at Carnegie Hall five times during the past ten years. However, he desired a music festival that would spread music closer to home.

In 2012, Kollias met the director of education for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County Rita Major and worked to make their common vision of finally having high school orchestras perform on an Orange County stage come true.

In the spring of 2014, the first Philharmonic Invitational High School Orchestra Festival was held in the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, one of the biggest and most well-known performing arts stages of Orange County. Five high schools performed in this first year for 30 minutes each.


Although past high school orchestras enjoyed the privilege to perform in Carnegie Hall, this was an opportunity to perform on in a place that was more familiar to them and with an audience they felt more connected with.

On Saturday, March 11, the fourth annual Philharmonic Invitational High School Orchestra Festival was held. Compared to the first year of this festival, fifteen schools participated such as Aliso Niguel High School, Santa Ana High School, Tesoro High School, Oxford Academy, and Huntington Beach High School. From 1- 9 p.m., each high school orchestra performed a 30-minute repertoire containing at least one classical piece.

The festival was designed to resemble the atmosphere of a showcase rather than a competition. Additionally, adjudicators attended the festival to give artistic feedback to the orchestras’ performances. Among them were John Koshak, Music Director and Conductor Emeritus of the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, Ulli Reiner of the San Diego Youth Symphony Orchestra and Barry Silverman, Music Director and Conductor of the South Coast Symphony. Ticketholders had the privilege to enter and leave as they pleased, which allowed them to enjoy an entire day of afternoon and evening performances.