Students from all over Northeast Florida participate in the orchestra’s rigorous program. All orchestra students meet a minimum of 90 minutes a day. For many students, who are in additional orchestra classes, this means at least 2 orchestra classes each day. In addition to orchestra classes, students attend classes in AP Music Theory, Keyboard, Music History, Recording, Jazz History, and Electronic Music.
The String Pedagogy class is unique to the DA Orchestra Department and is the only such class offered to high school students in the nation. Students attending this class learn to play, and teach the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Field experiences, provide them with opportunities to apply teaching strategies while working with string students at Pine Forest Elementary School of the Arts and LaVilla School of the Arts.
String Chamber Music students are offered the opportunity to develop ensemble skills in small groups such as quartets and trios while learning music written by noted composers from the last three centuries. Guest coaches are invited to mentor chamber ensembles. Students in this class perform two recitals each year.
Douglas Anderson Orchestra students are fortunate to learn from well known professional musicians from within our own community. Musicians from the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra as well as the Ritz Chamber Players are regular guests and mentors. The DA orchestra also collaborates with many local instructors and arts organizations, including the Friday Musicale, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, Prelude Chamber Music, and Jewish Community Alliance among others to provide enriching learning opportunities.
One of the highlights of being a string player at DA is the opportunity to learn from some of the best string musicians in the world. Through master classes, performances, and lectures, DA string students have learned from a range of artists representing many different styles and genres of music. Notable guests include violinist Joshua Bell, Turtle Island String Quartet, former concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Joseph Silverstein, GRAMMY award winning violinist/fiddler/composer Mark O’Connor, Time for Three, violinist with the Emerson String Quartet Philip Setzer, Kelly Thompkins-Hall (violinist from Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway), Joe Craven, and many, many more.
Recently DA Orchestra students were treated to a special visit and performance by Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano, of Johnnyswim. In town for an evening performance in Ponte Vedra, the two stopped by to see Abner's alma mater. Abner was a violinist in the DA orchestra graduating in 2001. He and wife, Amanda, have traveled throughout the U.S., and world performing to sold out crowds. They have received acclaim from Rolling Stone, NPR, The New York Times, Huffington Post, have performed on The Today Show, CONAN, and their single “Home” became the theme to the HGTV program Fixer Upper.https://www.johnnyswim.com/