Our 2024-25 Performance Application is Now Open Through June 30!

Avanti Orchestra

Orchestra of the Friday Morning Music Club

Founded in 1943 as a string ensemble, the orchestra of the Friday Morning Music Club (FMMC) grew to a full symphonic ensemble in the 1970s 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.

This community 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 (WIC) and Johansen International Competition for Young String Players (JIC).

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 is characterized by an ensemble culture that insists on quality every step of the way. Avanti members believe 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.

2023-24 Season

This season each concert will be conducted by outstanding young conductors, one of whom will be chosen as our new conductor. Audience feedback will be important throughout this process.

Meet the Guest Conductors

Shun Yao will conduct the September 30 concert.  He is currently working on his DMA in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Maryland, where he serves as Music Director of the University Orchestra.  He also serves as Assistant Conductor at the Annapolis Symphony Academy Youth Orchestra program.  He received his MM in Orchestral Conducting at the Cleveland Institute of Music, his MM in Collaborative Piano at Rice University, and his BM in Piano Performance at the Manhattan School of Music.
Dietrich Paredes Baralt will conduct the November 18 concert.  From Venezuela, he served as Music Director of the Youth Orchestra of Caracas, one of the flagship orchestras of El Sistema.  He served as Conducting Fellow with the LA Philharmonic, and he has conducted many other orchestras. He received his BM in violin performance at the Instituto Universitario de Estudios Musicales, and also studied at the Latin American Violin Academy and the Conservatory of Music Simon Bolivar.  He has also served as a guest conductor for Avanti.
Jamie Reeves will conduct the March 9 concert.  He is the Music Director of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra in Alabama and previously served as the Director of Orchestral Studies at University of Alabama.  He has held many Guest Conducting and Cover Conducting positions.  He received his DMA in Conducting at Peabody, and his MMA in Conducting at Indiana University.
Chi-Yuan Lin will conduct the May 4 concert.  She is currently working on her DMA in Conducting at Peabody.  She received her MM in Conducting at National Taiwan Normal University, where she also received her BFA in Piano Performance.  She has served as Music Director and Assistant Conductor of several Orchestras in Taiwan and the United States. 

All concerts are Saturday evenings at 7:30pm at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland.

All concerts are free and open to the public. Please note: all concerts are subject to change. Check the calendar to confirm details.

Past Concerts


Rolling Auditions for String Musicians
Schedule with Orchestra Manager and include a brief bio of music experience. Until further notice, all auditions will be by virtual submission. Instructions will be emailed upon request.

For detailed audition requirements, visit our auditions page.


Except for the Masterwork Festival, rehearsals are generally Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Church of the Epiphany. String players have six rehearsals for each concert, woodwinds and horns have four, and brass, percussion, etc., have three.

Masterwork Festival rehearsals are held at Montgomery College/Rockville.

Rehearsal Details


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


Orchestra Manager

Photo: Rin-rin Yu