about all-star orchestra

The All-Star Orchestra, similar to Major League Baseball’s All-Star team, is composed of the finest orchestral “athletes”  from  leading  orchestras  across  the  country.  Featuring  exceptional  performances  of symphonic  masterpieces  and  contemporary  works,  the All-Star  Orchestra  programs  seek  to  expose  broad audiences to classical music through a format that is both informative and accessible.


All-Star Orchestra
The 95 players could well have constituted the most accomplished pickup ensemble of all time.
— Musical America

Fresh from winning its sixth Emmy© award, All-Star Orchestra returned for a third season last fall. Led by internationally renowned conductor Gerard Schwarz, the all-new season of All-Star Orchestra started being broadcast by public television stations nationwide in September 2017.

Maestro Schwarz’s All-Star Orchestra is comprised of top players from some of the country’s greatest orchestra’s including New York (the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Philadelphia,  Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Houston, Minnesota, Nashville, New Jersey, Oregon, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis, Utah, Washington D.C., and more. Together these musicians perform on one stage under the leadership of Maestro Schwarz, former Music Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, who led the Seattle Symphony for 26 years and now serves as its Conductor Laureate. He is currently Music Director of the Eastern Music Festival, and has recently published an acclaimed memoir, Behind the Baton.  The ensemble  is  featured  in  the All-Star  Orchestra  television  series  seen  nationally  on  public  broadcasting stations. The series has won the 2013 ASCAP Deems Taylor Broadcasting Award and six Emmy© Awards in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The series is designed to appeal to classical music neophytes and connoisseurs alike.  The one hour programs  present  dynamic  performances –  recorded  in  HD –  prefaced  with  lively  commentary  and storytelling by  Mr. Schwarz, the composers, and musical experts. The TV programs entertain, educate and encourage greater understanding of classical music as a living tradition that spans and unites generations.

Highlights of Season Three include the spectacular “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Mussorgsky, the beloved “Romeo and Juliet” by Prokofiev, the beautiful “Enigma Variations” by Sir Edward Elgar (watch a preview here) and  “Mysterious Mountain” by the American mystic Alan Hovhaness.

The  first  season  of  eight  episodes  aired  on  public  television  stations  nationwide  in  the  fall  of  2013 and the second season of four episodes aired in the fall of 2015.  Programs from the first two seasons were  also  released  on  DVD  by  Naxos  of  America  and  are  available  from  Amazon  and  other  retailers. Episodes from the first season are available to stream at http://www.thirteen.org/programs/all-star-orchestra/. 

In 2014, the All-Star Orchestra partnered with Khan Academy, the free educational website that has more  than  15  million  monthly  users  on  average. The  collaboration  brings  music  education  to  the  widely visited  website  that  teaches  math,  science,  economics, humanities  and  many  other  subjects.  To  date, All-Star Orchestra  lessons  and  features  on  the  Khan Academy  website  have garnered  over  1.8 million  unique page views.