Howard County Gifted and Talented Orchestra Program

The Howard County Gifted and Talented Orchestra Program was created to enhance the orchestral experience of our students. Each orchestra is designed to meet the needs of the student who exceeds the orchestra curriculum at their grade level. In order to be aligned with the purpose of the Gifted and Talented Program the orchestras have been named GT Sinfonia and GT Orchestra.

The Sinfonia performs music one to two grade levels above the curricular standard and the GT Orchestra performs music three or more levels above the curricular standard.


Elementary and Middle GT Sinfonia

The Sinfonia student will demonstrate:

  • A high level of technique on their instrument
  • A high level of musical understanding
  • A high level of music reading skill
  • A maturity level that will allow for successful learning in a fast paced environment
  • Readiness for a rigorous orchestral experience

The Orchestra student will demonstrate:

  • The highest level of technique on their instrument
  • The highest level of musical understanding
  • The highest level of music reading skill
  • Orchestral experience
  • Potential for success in a mature and challenging orchestral setting

Audition Results for Elementary GT Orchestra
Attention Parents: Please check your e-mail for important information from the directors. If your child has been accepted into GT Orchestra, please fill out this Student Information Google Form prior to the first rehearsal!!

Elementary GT Orchestra Audition Results

Violin 1

Violin 2
 

Viola
 

Cello

Bass
 

Audition Results for Elementary GT Sinfonia
Attention Parents: Please check your e-mail for important information from the directors. If your child has been accepted into GT Sinfonia, please fill out this Student Information Google Form prior to the first rehearsal!!

Elementary GT Sinfonia Audition Results

1st Violin

2nd Violin

Viola

Cello

Bass

 
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Sarah Castrillon, Co-Director of the Elementary GT Orchestra

Sarah Pohl Castrillon has taught at Talbott Springs Elementary School and Oakland Mills Middle School since 2007. During those years, her middle school orchestras have consistently received superior ratings at county and state festivals.

Mrs. Castrillon was born and raised in Arlington, VA to a very musical family and went on to earn a Bachelor's of Music Education degree from the University of Maryland, College Park studying violin with Dr. James Stern. After graduation in 2005, Mrs. Castrillon went back to the University of Maryland to receive a Master's degree in Viola Performance studying with the principal violist of the National Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Foster. 

During her years at the University of Maryland she participated in the National Orchestral Institute, Joven Orquesta de Galicia in La Coruna, Spain and the International Festival-Institute at Round Top, Texas.  She was also a member of the Chamber Music Connections string quartet providing music outreach programs to elementary students in the Prince George's County Public Schools.  She currently plays with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra in Virginia and has performed with such artists as Peter Serkin, Roberto Diaz, Jaime Laredo, Zuill Bailey, Clay Aiken and members of the Guarneri String Quartet. Mrs. Castrillon currently resides in Columbia, MD with her husband Carlos and their two adorable sons, David and Matthew.

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Valerie Lawrence, Co-Director of the Elementary GT Orchestra

Mrs. Lawrence has been an Orchestra Director in Howard County since 1988. She has worked at schools all over the county. For the past 24 years she has been the Director of Orchestras at Elkridge Landing Middle School and has also taught at Elkridge Elementary School. She loves teaching middle school orchestra and enjoys working with all her students. In addition to orchestra, Mrs. Lawrence teaches general music classes. Mrs. Lawrence's middle school orchestras have been recognized time and time again for outstanding performances at festivals.

The violin is her primary instrument but she also plays piano, accompanying students at the County and State Solo and Ensemble Festivals. Mrs. Lawrence is a former member of the Maryland Symphony under the direction of Barry Tuckwell and has also performed for the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Opera. She is a freelance violinist and performs all over the Baltimore and Washington area. Mrs. Lawrence performs at Hood College each year in Handel's "Messiah" as well as various operas and concerts.

She studied with Dr. Donald Portnoy and Stephen Hyde at West Virginia University performing in both the West Virginia Symphony and Symphonette. Mrs. Lawrence then continued her education at Duquesne University. Once she moved to Baltimore, she continued her studies with Herbert Greenberg, former Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony.

Mrs. Lawrence comes from a musical family- her brothers are working musicians in Pittsburgh and her husband Tom is one of the most sought-after guitarists in Baltimore and Washington. They perform together at various events around town. She performs occasionally with her brothers and was featured on their family CD entitled “RML” Jazz. She resides in Columbia with her husband Tom and cat Tiger.

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Elizabeth Pak, Co-Director of the Elementary GT Sinfonia

Elizabeth Pak has been the orchestra director at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School and Glenwood Middle School since 2015. Since then, Mrs. Pak’s middle school orchestras have received superior ratings at county and state festivals. Mrs. Pak has also adjudicated at the Howard County ES Solo and Ensemble Festival.

Mrs. Pak began her musical studies at the age of five. She attended the Manhattan School of Music Pre-college Program where she studied under the renowned violinist, Grigory Kalinovsky. Mrs. Pak has won numerous competitions such as the Associated Music Teacher’s League Competition in 2002 and the 5th New York Music Competition sponsored by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and The Korea Daily, where she performed in Carnegie Weill Recital Hall. Mrs. Pak had her first orchestral debut in 2006 with the New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra playing Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 under Maestro Nam Yun Kim. She performed at the ceremony honoring the appointment of Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. Mrs. Pak was also one of the winners of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and performed in Alice Tully Hall.

Mrs. Pak studied under the great pedagogue, Victor Danchenko, for both her Master’s and Bachelor’s degree. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Violin Pedagogy and Performance at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in May 2014. She has also completed her Pre K-12 Teaching Certification Program at the Peabody Conservatory under Dr. Laura Parker. She was awarded a Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance in May 2012. Mrs. Pak currently resides in Eldersburg, MD with her husband, two dogs, and their sweet baby girl, Everly.

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Morgan Dice, Co-Director of the Elementary GT Sinfonia

Morgan Dice has been the orchestra director at Wilde Lake Middle School and Bonnie Branch Middle School since 2018. Born and raised in Howard County and an alumnus of HoCo’s excellent music programs, she began playing violin in third grade through her elementary school music program. In addition to violin, she also played flute throughout middle and high school, sang in choir, and even marched for two years on her high school’s drum line.

She attended The Hartt School for Music, Dance, and Theater in Hartford, CT, where she received a Bachelor’s in Violin Performance and a Master’s in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy. While at Hartt, she studied violin with Anton Miller, orchestral repertoire and chamber music with Mickey Reisman, and Suzuki Pedagogy with Teri Einfeldt, former chair of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She also played in the Hartt Symphony Orchestra for six years, in addition to numerous chamber music ensembles and Hartt’s contemporary music ensemble. Upon graduating in 2014, she taught a full private studio of 35 students, including running an after-school Suzuki program at the Greater Hartford Montessori School and teaching Suzuki lessons and group classes at the UCONN Community Music School.

After moving back home to Maryland in 2015, she attended UMBC to obtain a Master’s of Arts in Teaching to get her Maryland public school teacher certification. While at UMBC, she studied violin with Dr. Airi Yoshioka and Dr. Christian Tremblay and played in the UMBC Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Dice has also attended various summer music festivals including Brevard Music Center, New York String Quartet Workshop, and Festival Baltimore. She has played in masterclasses for Daniel Heifetz, Jacob Ashworth, Jessica Lee, Max Zorin, and the Miami String Quartet. Ms. Dice currently plays in the first violin section of the Columbia Orchestra, under the direction of Jason Love, and maintains an active gigging schedule and private studio. She currently resides in Columbia with her adorable black lab, Rebel.

 

Auditions

Audition nominations may only be made by the school orchestra director. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule.

Audition Dates

  • September 24, 25, and 26: Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday

    • 4 PM-8 PM

Audition Location: Wilde Lake Middle School (10481 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia)

Download the registration form, fill it out, and bring it to your audition.

Performance Requirements

1. Scales

  • Violin - Two octave G and D Major, One octave C Major.

  • Viola/Cello - Two octave C, D and G Major.

  • Bass - One octave G, C and D Major.

Scales must be performed in quarter notes at QUARTER NOTE = 96.

2. Prepared Piece: All instruments must play a solo piece which is demonstrative of their ability. Minimum level for consideration is the equivalent of a grade two piece from the end of Book I Suzuki.

3. Audition Excerpts (will be available on September 3, 2019)

4. Sight reading: Your child will be given music at the audition to perform without prior practice.

2019-2020 ESGTO Rehearsal and Performance Schedule

All rehearsals will be held at Oakland Mills High School

9410 Kilimanjaro Road, Columbia, MD 21045

Fall Schedule:

  • Thursday, October 3, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 10, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 17, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 24, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 31, 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 7, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 14, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 21, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 28, No Rehearsal

  • Thursday, December 5, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Saturday, December 7, 10:00 am – 11:00 am (Dress Rehearsal) at Marriotts Ridge High School

  • Saturday, December 7, 7:00 pm CONCERT at Marriotts Ridge High School

Spring Schedule:

  • Thursday, January 30, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, February 6, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, February 13, No Rehearsal

  • Thursday, February 20, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, February 27, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 5, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 12, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 19, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 26, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 2, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 9, No Rehearsal

  • Thursday, April 16, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 23, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 30, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Saturday, May 2, 10:00 am – 11:00 am (Dress Rehearsal) at Marriotts Ridge High School

  • Saturday, May 2, 7:00 pm CONCERT at Marriotts Ridge High School


2019-2020 ESGTO Rehearsal and Performance Schedule

All rehearsals will be held at Wilde Lake Middle School

10481 Cross Fox Ln, Columbia, MD 21044

Fall Schedule:

  • Thursday, October 3, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 10, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 17, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 24, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, October 31, 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 7, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 14, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 21, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, November 28, No Rehearsal

  • Thursday, December 5, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Saturday, December 7, 1:00 pm (Dress Rehearsal) at Marriotts Ridge High School

  • Saturday, December 7, 3:00 pm CONCERT at Marriotts Ridge High School

Spring Schedule:

  • Thursday, January 30, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, February 6, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, February 13, No Rehearsal

  • Thursday, February 20, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, February 27, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 5, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 12, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 19, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, March 26, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 2, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 9, No Rehearsal

  • Thursday, April 16, 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 23, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Thursday, April 30, 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

  • Saturday, May 2, 1:00 pm (Dress Rehearsal) at Marriotts Ridge High School

  • Saturday, May 2, 3:00 pm CONCERT at Marriotts Ridge High School


Since participation in this orchestra is a special honor, those students accepted should follow the expectations listed below.

  1. Attendance is mandatory. Absences will only be excused for illness, death in the family or court appearance. This is the Howard County policy for excused absences. Each student must be present for the entire rehearsal time. If students arrive late or leave early, the entire group suffers. The purpose of full rehearsals is to develop a particular sound through balance and blend. If a student is absent from a rehearsal a parent email to the directors is expected explaining the absence prior to the start of rehearsal. If a student is 15 minutes late for rehearsal, he/she will be marked “tardy.” Two tardies in a semester will result in one unexcused absence. A student’s membership will be reviewed after two unexcused absences, excessive excused absences, excessive tardiness or excessive early dismissals.

  2. Attendance at the dress rehearsal for each concert is mandatory. If a student is not present for the dress rehearsal, he/she may not participate in the concert.

  3. Preparing the music is mandatory. Students are expected to practice at home in preparation for rehearsals.

  4. Cooperation among students is a must in any performing group. Students who do not cooperate (fighting, name calling, etc.) will be dismissed from the orchestra.

  5. Parents will be asked to help set up chairs before and take down chairs after rehearsals.

  6. Each student will be given a packet of music and a folder at the first rehearsal. Students must bring a pencil to mark things on their music. Make certain that the student’s name is on the instrument case. Cellos must have rock stops.

  7. Dress for performance is as follows:

 

Boys

White Dress Shirt

Black Pants

Dress Shoes

Dress for Performance

 

Girls

White Blouse

Long Black Skirt or Pants

Dress Shoes

The directors reserve the right to dismiss any student for not following the expectations listed above without a refund of the yearly fee.

Contact Us

Please contact us if you have any questions about the Howard County Elementary GT Orchestra program.

 

You should be able to find the answers to most of your questions on this site, but if you need to contact us, click the email links below.

Elementary GT

Elementary GT Sinfonia

  • Morgan Dice: morgan_dice@hcpss.org

  • Elizabeth Pak: elizabeth_pak@hcpss.org

 

hCPSS Music Office

5451 Beaverkill Road
Columbia, MD, 21044