Avanti Orchestra

The Orchestra of the Friday Morning Music Club

Pablo Saelzer, Conductor and Music Director

Meet the Conductor

Founded in 1943 as a string ensemble, the orchestra of the Friday Morning Music Club grew to a full symphonic ensemble in the 1970’s under the direction of Robert Gerle. Sylvia Alimena led the orchestra from the mid-nineties to 2004. Pablo Saelzer became Conductor and Music Director in 2005.

The orchestra is made up of approximately 60 musicians all of whom volunteer their services. Most are auditioned members of FMMC, however guests are welcome. The orchestra presents four concerts annually including the Masterwork Festival and features winners of the Washington International Competition and Johansen International Competition for Young String Players.

During the last decade the orchestra has gone through a revitalization process symbolized in the group’s adoption of the name Avanti in 2009. This process has been characterized by the development of an ensemble-culture that insists on quality at every step of the way. Saelzer believes that good performances are expressive performances, and that these are only possible when personal preparation and group collaboration align in the pursuit of unity. This strategy has been successful in attracting highly qualified instrumentalists who identify with this way of music-making.

Upcoming Events

All concerts are free and open to the public.

Past Concerts


For detailed audition requirements, visit our auditions page.


Except for the June Masterwork Festival, rehearsals are generally Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Church of the Epiphany. Strings players have six (6) rehearsals for each concert, Woodwinds and Horns have four (4), Brass, Percussion, etc. have three (3).

June Masterwork Festival rehearsals are held over two weeks at Montgomery College/Rockville—The first week Tuesday and Thursday is for string players; The final week is 4 or 5 consecutive rehearsals. Depending on the work, the last 3-4 consecutive rehearsals will be full orchestra rehearsals.

Rehearsal Details

Orchestra Fund

In addition to the support it receives from the Club’s General Fund, the orchestra draws from a fund dedicated to its use. For information on contributing to the Orchestra Fund, please visit our donations page.

2019-20 Concert Schedule


Orchestra Manager

Photo: Rin-rin Yu