• The 46th Annual Northwest Orchestra Festival

  • The Performing Arts Department of Mt. Hood Community College will host the 46th Annual Northwest Orchestra Festival on March 9, 2019 on its Gresham, Oregon (East Portland Area) campus.


    To provide an opportunity for middle school, junior high school and high school orchestras to participate in a festival similar to those presently afforded symphonic bands, symphonic choirs, stage bands, and vocal jazz ensembles; to stimulate and foster greater interest in orchestras and string programs; and to provide for an exchange of orchestral concepts which will be of benefit both to students and directors. Adjudicators will include distinguished educators and performers with regional, national, and international reputations.


    The Northwest Orchestra Festival is authorized and sanctioned by the Oregon School Activities Association and operates under its guidelines. Participation in the festival is limited to orchestras from accredited schools. Orchestras using their director as a performer and orchestras which draw musicians from more than one school will receive evaluation but shall not be eligible for awards. Each orchestra should consist of at least ten members. Small Ensemble (chamber music) groups shall consist of two to nine members.

    Orchestra Divisions

    Junior Divisions

    • Orchestra 1 – 6th through 8th grades (middle school) – scored with the 1A/2A rubric
    • Orchestra 2 – 7th through 9th grades (junior high) – scored with the 1A/2A rubric

    Senior Divisions

    • Orchestra 3 – High schools with a graduating class below 300 – scored with the 3A/4A rubric
    • Orchestra 4 - High schools with a graduating class above 300 – scored with the 5A/6A rubric
    • Orchestra 3C – Chamber orchestras (10-24 players) from high schools with a graduating class below 300
    • Orchestra 4C – Chamber orchestras (10-24 players) from high schools with a graduating class above 300

    Small Ensemble Divisions

    • SE ½ - 6th through 9th grades (middle and junior high school) – scored with the 1A/2A rubric
    • SE 3 – Small Ensembles (9 or fewer players) from high schools with a graduating class below 300 – scored with the 3A/4A rubric
    • SE 4– Small Ensembles (9 or fewer players) from high schools with a graduating class above 300 – scored with the 5A/6A rubric

    Divisions 3C and 4C may include winds. Chamber orchestras which are not over 2/3 strings will be adjudicated but may not compete for awards.

    Division SE may include winds and solo sonatas with keyboard if space is available. All performers in each group must be from a single school to compete for awards but are encourage to participate for comments. Advanced unaccompanied string players may be permitted to perform solo in certain circumstances. Permission must be obtained from the festival prior to performance.

    All orchestras (larger than 24 players) should register as either full or string orchestra (F or S). Separate awards will be given in Full and String Orchestra categories.

    Ninth graders may participate in either the Junior High school division (2) or in the Senior High school divisions, (3, 4) but may not participate in both.

    Like in sports, ensembles may elect to participate in one division higher than their enrollment suggests if they so choose.


    The festival will provide the equipment listed below at the performance site:

    • One Piano
    • Four Timpani (in the Full Orchestra rooms only)
    • Chairs and stands

    Upon prior reservation, the following may be provided:

    • Other keyboard percussion
    • One (electronic) Harpsichord

    Each orchestra will be limited to 20 minutes warm-up and tune-up in an assigned rehearsal room. This room will contain chairs, but no other equipment. (No music stands.) Due to college policy, separate homerooms will not be available. One large unlocked room will be provided to store instruments. Schools will have to provide their own security for their own equipment.


    Each orchestra will perform one or more selections in its respective division within a designated time limit. There is absolutely no limitation of style or form in the selection of music. Oregon orchestras competing in the OSAA State forum must perform at least 15 minutes of music.


    This festival is designed to further the development of orchestras. Feedback from distinguished music educators and performers is intended to affirm the achievements of each group and give them suggestions for future progress.

    All orchestras will setup and perform one or more selections within a 25-minute time limit.

    Adjudicators will use the official OSAA scale that matches the registered ensemble’s division. This means that middle school and small school scores will often appear higher than the scores of larger schools. Find the rubric at https://sites.google.com/site/oregonbanddirectorsassociation/home/judging-rubric

    Time permitting, each orchestra will be given an on-stage clinic after its adjudicated performance.

    Time is of the essence in making sure the festival runs smoothly. Groups which do not conform to the time limitations or cooperate fully with festival personnel will have discretionary points subtracted from their scores.

    Awards and Command Performances

    Division 1

    Awards will be distributed at the end of the day’s competition. In the event of a tie, the “musicality” scores will be used as a tie breaker.

    Division 2 – 4 and SE

    Each of the subdivisions will receive first, second and third place awards. In the event of a tie, the “musicality” scores will be used as a tie breaker. Throughout the day, the adjudicators will be listening for up to four ensembles to nominate for a short command performance immediately prior to the awards ceremony. If an ensemble is chosen for a command performance, they will be asked to perform one selection not exceeding ten minutes in length. Directors will be notified of their participation by the conclusion of the final performance in each room.



    The application fee for Divisions 1-4 is $300 (each additional Division 1-4 ensemble receives a discounted rate of $150)

    The application fee for Small Ensembles (2-9 players) is $60

    Please note the date of registration will be determined by the date a check or funds are received, not the date a purchase order or application is received.

    Late Registration:

    Late registration may be possible after the registration deadline of February 1 if there is space available. A $25 late registration fee will be added.

    Withdrawal and refunds:

    Withdrawal prior to February 1 will result in a $25 administrative fee. No refunds for withdrawal after February 1.

    Contact Information

    All information for the festival is available on the Festival’s Website: www.mhcc.edu/orchestrafestival. There, you can find materials regarding schedule, adjudicators, parking, travel, and facilities. In the weeks before the event, check back often as updates are frequent.

    Find the MHCC Instrumental Music Program:

    • on Facebook /MtHoodMusic
    • on Twitter @MtHoodMusic

    Festival Director: Tim Gilson – 503-491-7010Timothy.Gilson@mhcc.edu.