Department of Education

WA Schools' Senior Orchestra Festival

8 August 2021
WA Schools' Senior Orchestra Festival

This event is run in partnership with the Australian Band and Orchestra Director's Association (WA). In 2021 the WA Schools' Senior Orchestra Festival will be held on 8th August.

Any enquiries relating to the festival should be directed to Tanya Chapman (Program Coordinator- Festivals & Events, Instrumental Music School Services) or Steven Harmer (President- ABODA (WA) Inc.).

The aims of the Senior Orchestra Festival are:


  1. To give orchestras a performance opportunity at an international standard venue.
  2. To give orchestra members an opportunity to hear other orchestras perform.
  3. To provide each orchestra with constructive comments from a panel of informed adjudicators.
  4. To provide orchestras with the opportunity to work with top level directors in a workshop format.
  5. To present to each orchestra an adjudication and certificate which recognises its participation and recognised standard of performance.

The festival is open to any independent or public school string or symphony orchestra, with divisions catering for young/middle school or unbalanced orchestras to experienced senior orchestras.

Orchestras perform within a division with a panel of adjudicators providing written and spoken feedback.

Directors will receive two recordings of their orchestra, including one with spoken adjudicator’s comments superimposed over the music.

Music selections list

Orchestras are expected to present an appropriate program of up to four pieces, which must include one piece from the music selections list, with a playing time of up to 15 minutes for orchestras in C Divisions and up to 20 minutes for B, A and Premier Divisions.

The divisions and music selections list have been structured to conform to the following standards:

Full Orchestra:

  • Premier Division = grades 4 and above
  • A Division = grades 3 and 3.5
  • B Division = grades 2 and 2.5
  • C Division = by application only. Please email Tanya Chapman

String Orchestra:

  • Premier Division = grades 4 and above
  • A Division = grades 3 and 3.5
  • B Division = grade 2.5
  • C Division = grade 2
  • Novice Division = grade 1.5 and below

Own-choice items must be of at least equal difficulty to those listed for the division the orchestra is performing in. Directors are advised to observe the published grade levels appropriate to each division in making additional selections. For more information or advice on repertoire selection contact Andrew Patrick at Instrumental Music School Services.

Please note:

  • Adjudications and certificates can be collected or posted (country schools only) at the end of the festival at Instrumental Music School Services, 150 Guildford Rd, Maylands. Individual orchestra results will no longer be posted online or announced. It is entirely at the discretion of each orchestra whether or not they wish to make public their results.
  • Disadvantaged orchestras can apply for up to two extra players (students/ex-students/or teachers in special circumstances) when submitting their application.

Many string orchestras perform at the festival with violin and viola sections standing up. To ensure that each session runs with a minimum of seating changes, these ensembles will be scheduled to perform in succession. If you require your orchestra to stand up while performing it is essential that you tick the appropriate box on the application form.

Many of the scores and parts of the music for each division can be perused at the Instrumental Music School Services resource centre. For further information contact Tanya Chapman at Instrumental Music School Services.

New initiatives for 2017 and onwards

Orchestras can opt into a direct conductor feedback session directly after their performance given by one of the two adjudicators who have just listened to their orchestra. This allows students direct contact with the adjudicators and offers a greater amount of educational value to the students' involvement in the festival.

Conductors' feedback

During each performance, conductors will be videoed if requested and given constructive and confidential feedback on their conducting by an adjudicator using a separate conducting form. This has proved to be very popular with many directors and the positive feedback that they have received, has been an extremely valuable tool in their professional development.

One-to-one conducting professional developement can be applied for in 2021.

Observation of the feedback process can also provide a valuable experience for tertiary education students. If you do not wish for this to occur, please check the box on the entry form.


Tickets can be purchased at the event only (no presales). Performers and directors will be admitted without charge. Ticket prices for other audience members (cash and card facilities available) are:

$7.00 Adults

$5.00 Concession

$3.00 Programs

Festival photographs

Group and on-stage performance photographs of participating orchestras from the 2019 festival are available for viewing and purchase at prophotobooth. Use the password 'aboda19'.

Helpers needed!

One of the reasons for the outstanding success of the ABODA (WA) festivals over the last three decades is the contribution made by volunteer staff. Helpers are needed in every session with such tasks as stage management, ticket selling and marshalling.

This is a great way to meet other directors and hear orchestras from other schools and divisions.

Most helpers from previous years have found the experience so rewarding that they come back year after year.

If you are interested in helping in one or more sessions at the festival, IMSS staff members please use the online database to register your preferred session/s. Non IMSS staff members please contact Tanya Chapman for a link to log in.

WA Schools' Senior Orchestra Festival

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