Danielle Belen, Associate Professor of Violin, The University of Michigan
(NRO 2006 & 2007 Concertmaster)
“I attended NRO in 2006 and 2007 and those were extraordinary summers of music-making that I will never forget.  I was treated as a professional, giving me a new confidence as I embraced and grew into meeting those high expectations. I had the privilege of serving as your concertmaster for two summers as well as performing the Brahms and Sibelius violin concertos as a soloist.  In my professional life now as a teacher, I reference my experiences at NRO frequently and have students who are now interested in attending themselves!”

Matthew Howard, Principal Percussion, Los Angeles Philharmonic
(NRO 2013 Percussionist)
“I would have to say that, NRO has to be in the top 3 of best orchestral music festivals in the world.  There is no other place that offers real life experiences within one of the most beautiful parts of the country.  I enjoyed every second in Breckenridge and would not be where I am today without NRO and the doors that it helped me open.” 

Christopher Martin, Principal Trumpet, New York Philharmonic
(NRO 1997)
“The summer I spent at the NRO was the perfect experience for me at that time. It helped me transition from the mentality of ‘student’ to ‘professional’. The high level of performance, the plethora of great music performed each week, and the camaraderie of the ensemble are unlike anything most of us experience as students. NRO teaches the tools and confidence needed to succeed as performing musicians of the highest level.”

Michael Kemp, Principal Timpanist, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
(NRO 2014 Timpanist)
“My summer performing with the National Repertory Orchestra was an incredible and invaluable experience. Having recently completed my graduate studies when I joined the NRO, the experience I had that summer was extremely helpful in preparing myself for the professional world and gaining confidence in myself as a player. The opportunity to perform such a large volume and variety of music at a high level in a very short amount of time taught me how to be more efficient with my preparation. The training provided at the NRO allows serious musicians the perfect opportunity to hone their craft under the guidance of great conductors and alongside highly skilled colleagues who share their passion and excitement for music making.”

Eric Gratz, Concertmaster, San Antonio Symphony
(NRO 2012 Co-Concertmaster)
“My summer at NRO was transformational. The support I got from such wonderful and talented colleagues, as well as being dropped into the proverbial deep end in terms of repertoire and responsibility, was absolutely instrumental in helping me become an artist. I wouldn’t have the experience, positivity, and confidence to be successful in this world without that summer.”

Yu “Dean” Zhang, Principal Keyboard, Omaha Symphony
(NRO 2013 & 2014 Pianist)
“The experience at NRO helped me tremendously to grow as a professional musician before I went on to my next orchestral positions at the New World Symphony and The Omaha Symphony.  The continuous pursuit of the highest artistry at NRO has always been my inspiration for my performing career,”

Emily Tuan, Operations Manager, New England Conservatory Preparatory School
(2013 NRO Personnel Intern and 2014 NRO Orchestra Manager)
“Working with the National Repertory Orchestra for the past two seasons was an indispensable experience for me to learn what it took to successfully manage a professional ensemble and anticipate musicians’ needs on a consistent basis. It was during my season as the NRO Intern that I realized my passion in collaborating with musicians from the administrative aspect. No matter where I end up, I will be forever grateful for the wonderful team and incredibly talented musicians I had the opportunity to work with.”

Jarrett McCourt, Principal Tuba, New World Symphony
(NRO 2014 Tubist)
“For me, NRO was a huge turning point for my playing. Playing a large amount of repertoire alongside incredible musicians from around the country was something that I really needed at that time, and spending eight weeks in beautiful Breckenridge was certainly a great way to spend my summer as well. I can’t recommend the NRO enough for young musicians looking to play great rep, with great musicians, in a beautiful part of the country.” 

Tito Muñoz, Music Director, The Phoenix Symphony
(NRO 2015 Guest Conductor)
“I’ve known so many people who have gone through this program.  You find NRO alum everywhere, in every orchestra.  It’s wonderful, a really nice place to grow.  Everyone is very nurturing and supportive.  It really trains everybody, not only in the playing but in the mindset.  Having to go through repertoire very quickly, that’s professional training because that’s what you have to do in a professional orchestra.  It’s no different.  That’s something a lot of places don’t offer and I think that’s what’s very special about this place.”

Lin Ma, Assistant Principal E-flat Clarinet, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
(NRO 2013 Clarinet)
“My musical career has been moving forward significantly since my time with the NRO. The music festival not only brought my playing to a higher level, but also fulfilled my dream of playing a solo performance when I won the concerto competition.  This prepared me to win an international competition and perform as a soloist with a major American orchestra a year later. I received a lot from the NRO, and it made a big impact in my life.”

Luke Fitzpatrick, Principal Flute, Fort Wayne Philharmonic
(NRO 2012 Flute)
“NRO was an crucial part of my musical development, and I carry the experiences I had in Breckenridge with me to this day. The sheer amount of diversity in programming at the NRO helped to shape me into a versatile musician with experience in multiple styles of playing. I was especially influenced by the talented musicians I had the privilege of being in the flute section with that summer.”

Michael Marks, Principal Bass, Arizona Opera
(NRO 2014 Bass)
“My experiences with the National Repertory Orchestra are unforgettable. For me, it was a place to make lasting connections with new friends and really set deep roots in the orchestral repertoire that I wouldn’t have been able to do at any other summer festival.”

Young Kim, Horn, Sarasota Orchestra
(NRO 2012 Horn)
“I really appreciate my time back at NRO – covering a ton of repertoire in a very short amount of time was demanding, but all so very worth it. Thank you very much for the great experience, NRO!””

William Eddins, Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
(NRO 2014 Guest Conductor)
“I remember walking away (from the first rehearsal) just with a big smile on my face because I knew I had young, enthusiastic and really talented musicians to work with.  And it’s kind of like a boot camp for young musicians who want to go into the professional ranks.  They get to do repertoire that they don’t normally get a chance to play, and they have to learn it quickly, and they have to play it well.”

Michael Stern, Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony
(NRO 2014 Guest Conductor)
“It is my very good fortune that throughout my career I have had many such chances to work with young and gifted musicians, in many places. However, I truly believe that the National Repertory Orchestra program is unique. The great benefit provided to these young people by their experience at NRO is immensely important to them, and in a very real sense, it will be figured prominently at the heart of their ongoing development and will help to define the future of orchestral life and music in our country.” 

Jeffrey Kahane, Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
(NRO 2014 Guest Conductor)
“Some of the playing I heard onstage at the Riverwalk Center rivaled that of some of the most famous major orchestras in this country.  I have been blessed to work with virtually every major American orchestra, many of them multiple times, and I can say that without a shadow of a doubt my recent experience as soloist and conductor with the National Repertory Orchestra was one of the highlights of my recent musical life.”

Jonathan Cohen, Clarinet, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
(NRO 2010 Clarinet & 2013 Stage Manager)
“I am deeply grateful for my summer playing with the NRO. The experience I gained playing in such a high level orchestra in an intense performance schedule directly prepared me for my career as an orchestral clarinetist. Since my summer in Breckenridge, I have completed a Bachelor of Music degree at the Manhattan School of Music and a Master of a Music degree at The Juilliard School. I am now ready and excited to take on my role performing with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.”

Molly Werts McDonald, Violin, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
(NRO 2010 & 2012 Violin)
“NRO was an incredible place for me to gain experience playing orchestral repertoire at a very high level.  I was constantly amazed by how well the musicians were treated during our stay.  In rehearsals, we were treated as professionals, and outside of rehearsals we were treated with the greatest warmth by Breckenridge locals and our host families.  I will always keep these memories of my two summers at NRO with  fondness, and appreciate the musical experience that I gained there.”

Evan Vicic, Assistant Principal Viola, The Louisville Orchestra
(NRO 2010 & 2013 Viola & Principal Viola)
“I had two of the best summers, both in learning and in fun, of my life. I got to share the stage with tons of incredible people, and had amazing host parents.”

Jason Seber, Education and Outreach Conductor, The Louisville Orchestra
(NRO 2005 Assistant to the Music Director)

“The NRO was an exceptional pre-professional experience for me and an integral part of my musical development.  I have very fond memories of my two summers in Breckenridge and am grateful for the exciting musical opportunities I had there.”

Miles Maner, Bassoon and Contrabassoon, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
(NRO 2008 Bassoon and Contrabassoon)
“The NRO was crucial to my musical career because it established strong friendships within the arts community. The world of the orchestral musician is small and the connections you make are important. With so many talented students at the NRO, I was bound to meet future leaders of our art. Also, the fast-paced nature of the festival’s programming allowed me to get a sense a professional orchestra’s schedule. The amount of repertoire covered and the level at which the orchestra performed made for a challenging and enriching experience for me.”

Katherine Williamson, Violin, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
(NRO 2013 Violin)
“My experience at NRO has prepared me very well not only because of the musical and artistic opportunities it provides, but because NRO is unyielding with it’s vigorous and demanding schedule, I have been extremely well prepared for my new position. NRO teaches its students how to manage the challenges that come with playing for hours and hours at a time and how to move from one thing to the next very quickly while still enjoying your life. I’m very grateful for the knowledge I received spending a summer in beautiful Breckenridge.”