Our Orchestras

The School of the Arts is proud to offer two orchestra ensembles that meet as regular classes during the school day- the String Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra. The Chamber Orchestra is made up of stringed instruments only- violin, viola, cello, and bass. The Symphony Orchestra is a full orchestra with strings, winds, brass, and percussion instruments. Both orchestras study and perform advanced music literature from orchestral repertoire spanning the past 400 years. For more information about the policies and requirements for these orchestras, as well as the technique classes, please refer to our HANDBOOK.

Prerequisite: Audition or successful completion of 8th grade strings

String Orchestra is the performing ensemble for string majors who have successfully auditioned to be in SOA High School Orchestra. String majors not participating in the symphony orchestra perform in the String Orchestra as their performing ensemble for their major. Students in this class study advanced string orchestral literature, and they participate in all state-sponsored events and select community performances. Students are required to wear formal uniforms at concerts and participate in all rehearsals, performances, festivals, and competitions.

Prerequisite: Audition only

Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble for strings, winds, brass, and percussion students who have achieved considerable skill on their instrument. Auditions for Symphony are in the spring for the following year’s class. To set up an audition, make an appointment with the symphony director. Students in this class perform collegiate and professional level orchestral literature, and they participate in all state-sponsored events and select community performances. Students are required to wear formal uniforms at concerts and participate in all rehearsals, performances, festivals, and competitions.

Students in both SOA High School Orchestras are involved in a rigorous routine of rehearsals and concerts. The three major performances that take place during the school year are performed in the Rose Maree Myers Theatre for the Performing Arts, located at the school. Other performances are scheduled throughout the year as needed.

The SOA High School Orchestras perform many concerts and services for the Charleston Community. Students also perform in professional chamber ensembles (quartets, trios, and duets) for weddings, receptions, and other community events. SOA High School Orchestra students consistently earn high placements in state and national orchestras. Many of our students have been accepted into prestigious colleges, universities, and conservatories and have gone on to become teachers, performers, and other music-related professionals.



Our Director

Dr. Christopher Selby is an active clinician, speaker, adjudicator and conductor, and is the co-author of Habits of a Successful String Musician, a string method book for upper level orchestras published by GIA. Dr. Selby currently directs the School of the Arts High School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras in Charleston, SC where he recently led the SOA Symphony to winning the Award of National Grand Champion of the Public School Orchestra Division of the 2016 National Orchestra Festival at the national conference of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) in Tampa, Florida. He earned his Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees in Orchestral Conducting from the University of South Carolina, and a Music Education degree from the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. He earned his National Board Certification in the area of Early Adolescent and Young Adult Music in 2002 and 2012. 

Dr. Selby regularly presents clinics on teaching orchestra, most recently at the Midwest Clinic, four National Conferences for the American String Teacher Association (ASTA), the Birch Bay String Teacher Workshop in Washington, and at the state conferences in Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia. He co-authored the 2010 SC Performance Standards for Instrumental Music, and has published articles in ASTA’s American String Teacher. A recipient of the 2009 South Carolina ASTA Orchestra Teacher of the Year, Dr. Selby has conducted a SC All-State Orchestra and numerous regional honor orchestras in the area. Before moving to Charleston, Dr. Selby was the Orchestra Coordinator in Richland School District Two where he taught orchestra at Spring Valley High School and supervised string orchestra curriculum and instruction in all of the orchestra programs across the school district. 

Dr. Selby has served as a leader in multiple roles. Currently he serves on the Council for Orchestral Education for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and from 2012-2014 he served as Chair of the ASTA Committee on School Orchestras and Strings. From 2011-2013 he served as President of the South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA) Executive Board, overseeing the Band, Orchestra, Choral, Elementary, Higher Ed and Piano Divisions. He was President of the Orchestra Division from 2007 to 2009 where he led this organization through the restructuring of their Region and All-State Orchestras, and improved the clarity and rigor in the evaluation process at Concert Festival and Solo and Ensemble Festivals. 

Dr. Selby lives in Mount Pleasant, SC with his 
children, Alex and Kate, and his lovely wife, Margaret, who teaches orchestra at Laing Middle School and is currently serving as the President of the Orchestra Division of SCMEA.