Fine Arts Academy
Instrumental Music: Orchestra
The McCallum Fine Arts Academy Orchestra program was started in 1953 with the opening of the school and has had a history of highly qualified and dynamic orchestra directors. Today the program has grown to over 200 students participating in three performing orchestras, a double bass ensemble, a violin ensemble, a viola ensemble, a cello ensemble and, with the support of the Austin Chamber Music Center educational outreach, numerous other quartets and ensembles.
Directors Ricky Pringle and Georgeann Shockley’s students have consistently received top scores at UIL concert and sight-reading competitions. String orchestras also add wind players to compete in the UIL Full Orchestra competitions each year, where they have also been very successful over the years. The orchestras and string ensembles also collaborate with other Academy students/directors in other strands such as dance, theatre, and vocal music. For example, Chamber Orchestra and McCallum’s combined choirs have performed masterworks. The orchestras and string ensembles also perform for community events.
Over the years, McCallum orchestras have frequently provided live classical music for Academy dance performances, and as an outgrowth of that, some McCallum orchestra members have studied dance and appeared on stage in both musical theatre and dance productions (as dancers) and others have joined the choir as singers for special performances. Students in our programs have also had opportunities to perform in some of the most prestigious performance venues, such as Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center, The National Cathedral, just to name a few.
Director Ricky Pringle performs regularly with various orchestras in Texas and has also been invited to conduct Region Orchestras in Texas. Mr. Pringle has also been featured in Strad Magazine. Assistant Director Georgeann Shockley, is a member of the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Opera Orchestra. She is also the inventor of the Fedget®, a tool for teaching the bow hand to violin, viola, cello and bass students.
Chamber Orchestra consists of students in grades 10 through 12. Students audition for that group every year in May. The Orchestra serves as our varsity orchestra, performs at school functions, collaborates with other organizations, and performs for community events.
Concert Orchestra consists of students in grades 10 through 12. Students in this orchestra also work in an orchestra setting, get the chamber music experience and serve as one of our non-varsity competing orchestras. The students in this organization also have the opportunity to join with other orchestra students for community events.
Ninth Grade Orchestra consists of students in grade 9. These students work in an orchestra setting, get the chamber music experience and also serve as on of our non-varsity competing orchestras. The students in this organization also have the opportunity to join with other orchestra students for community events.
McCallum Instrument Ensemble Classes are instrument specific (i.e. violin, viola, cello, bass). In these classes we focus on techniques unique to each instrument, region practice and performance for critiques, solo practice and performance for critiques, master classes with professors, and ensemble practice within each specific instrument.