The National Repertory Orchestra is a preeminent intensive fellowship that equips young musicians for orchestral music careers while providing the highest-level of musical experience for all stakeholders. The National Repertory Orchestra prides itself on "Changing Lives Through Music"!
The National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) was originally founded in 1960 as the Blue Jeans Symphony by conductor Walter Charles in Estes Park, CO. Maestro Charles believed that classical orchestral music should be available to a diverse group of people in a wide variety of settings and founded the Community Link Program and Children's Concert program during his tenure. In 1966, the orchestra moved to Evergreen and was renamed the Colorado Philharmonic. During the orchestra's first 17 years, it flourished in terms of drawing new audiences and garnering local and national artistic praise and financial support.
After Walter Charles' retirement from the orchestra in 1978, Maestro Carl Topilow became the new music director of the Colorado Philharmonic. The orchestra changed its name to the National Repertory Orchestra in 1986 to better recognize the global make-up of its musicians. After 20 years in Evergreen, the orchestra moved to Keystone in 1987 before ultimately settling in the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center in 1993.
The purpose of the National Repertory Orchestra is to train aspiring young professionals for successful careers in classical music. Our intense summer program is unique in that musicians are able to attend the festival completely free of cost. In doing so, the National Repertory Orchestra allows participants to concentrate solely on their educational and professional goals in addition to giving individuals from all economic backgrounds equal access to a career changing experience.
Today, nearly 900 aspiring orchestral musicians ages 18-29 participate in our national audition process. The 88 selected musicians go on to perform 20 full orchestra concerts in eight weeks, an experience equivalent to a nine-month season in a professional symphony orchestra. In addition to their full orchestral performances, musicians play in over 60 rehearsals, 15 chamber ensemble performances, 20 masterclass sessions, and 40 community events.
While in Breckenridge, musicians take part in the National Repertory Orchestra's Education & Community Engagement programs. With more than 40 outreach events, these programs prepare musicians for an active role in the communities they will serve after leaving the NRO while also providing free musical events for youth, underserved populations, and the general community of Summit County. The NRO believes that music is for everyone and takes great pride in our ability to provide Summit County communities with free musical events. The NRO's mission in "Changing Lives through Music" applies not only to the young musicians we work with each summer, but to the Summit County community as well.
Throughout our history, the NRO has performed in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the 1988 Korea Olympic Arts Festival in Seoul, and been awarded grants from major organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts. However, our biggest accomplishment is the fact that virtually every professional orchestra in America and many around the world employ alumni of the NRO. When we survey alumni and ask if their time spent with the NRO was of value, the most common comment we receive is: "I would not have won my new job in the _______ Orchestra without the NRO experience." Feedback like this is what keeps the National Repertory Orchestra dedicated to "Changing Lives Through Music".
"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."
Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony and NRO guest conductor
"My two years with the NRO were maybe the most eye-opening musical experiences I ever had. Playing with that level of committed, amazing musicians was a life changing experience."
New York Philharmonic and NRO alumnus
"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 of 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."
Chicago Symphony Orchestra and NRO alumnus
"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."
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and NRO alumnus
"Looking back over my development as a musician, my summer at National Repertory Orchestra in 1992 was pivotal in helping me make the leap from student to professional musician. It was amazing playing with such a consistently high caliber ensemble and being immersed in the standards of the symphonic repertoire."
San Francisco Symphony and NRO alumnus