Festival Strings

The Hershey Symphony Festival Strings is an 80-member string orchestra comprised of middle school students living in the greater Harrisburg/Hershey areas.  The ensemble gathers for a few rehearsals, culminating with a concert performance.

Membership in the orchestra is open to all area string players in grades six through nine upon the recommendation of school or private music teachers.  All students are accepted without audition.  All students must be members of their school orchestra, although Festival Strings also services many students in home school, or schools without string programs.  High school students who are graduates of the program may return to serve as rehearsal assistants, gaining valuable mentoring experience.

Since the orchestra’s inception, Festival Strings has been selected through audition to perform four times for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Conference and four times for the Eastern Division Music Educators National Conference.  In 2004, Festival Strings made their first appearance at the MENC National Conference in Minneapolis, and performed again for them in April of 2006 in Salt Lake City.  Festival Strings performed for the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago in December of 2006.  In the spring of 2008 the orchestra was in Albuquerque for the American String Teachers Association national convention.  The orchestra has also performed for the MENC Eastern Division, and for the state Pennsylvania Music Educators Association.   In the Spring of 2017, the youth orchestra made its debut at Lincoln Center, New York.

Under the direction of Dr. Sandra Dackow since its formation, Festival Strings is recognized for setting a national standard for performance excellence and is unique in its scope and offerings.

Get on the fast track for fall!  Join the Hershey Symphony Festival Strings, and Powerhouse Strings, for a one day open rehearsal on Monday, August 13th, at Palm Lutheran Church in Palmyra, under the direction of Ms. Jennifer Meckler.  This event is for any student interested in becoming a member of either orchestra for the upcoming season, so bring a friend!  Festival Strings, our advanced orchestra, is open to students in grades 6 through 9. All players in this ensemble benefit from having a private teacher and three years of playing experience. Powerhouse Strings is for younger students, grades 5-7, who have only two years of playing experience, and these students should be familiar with low 2, eighth notes, slurs and dotted rhythms.

The day will begin at 10:00am with Festival Strings rehearsing Haydn’s Symphony # 3, a work that will be performed with the Hershey Symphony on Friday, October 26th. Plan to start your day with this rehearsal, unless you know that you’re choosing Powerhouse Strings. Powerhouse Strings will join Festival Strings at 11:30am for a combined rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s Little Russian Symphony which is programmed for both orchestras with the Hershey Symphony in April of 2019.

After a lunch break, both orchestras will have some fun with a new arrangement by Sandra Dackow, Music Director for the Hershey Symphony, titled Soldiers Joy. The day will conclude with a mini demo presentation for families of the music worked on at 3:00pm, followed by ice cream for all.

You must bring a music stand with your name on it, along with your instrument, and a sack lunch. Casual summer clothes are fine today. Festival Strings participation fee for this event  is $40 ($30 for Powerhouse Strings) and will be fully deductible from your enrollment fee in either orchestra, applications for which will be available later in August.

Please email us through this page  with the information below to Get on Fast Track for Fall!  That way we can have a music folder ready for you. Enrollments  will also be accepted on August 13th, along with payments. A detailed schedule will be emailed closer to the date. Let’s play!

Mrs. Lynn Sten, Administrative Coordinator (717-576-3297)

Student’s name:

Preferred email:

Preferred phone:

Orchestra desired:


Years of playing experience:

Years of private lessons:

School and grade in fall:

Parents names: