Garfield Orchestra Program 101

What to know for incoming families to the GHS Orchestra Program


Welcome to our new families to the Garfield Orchestra program! You and your musician student are joining a long history of music excellence as part of the Garfield Music Program, and we are very excited to welcome you all. Last year marked a transition year for Garfield Orchestra as we pivoted from a challenging COVID affected year to one where we welcomed students back into school and limited live in-person performances and community and regional events. As we look forward to the 2022-23 school year, we anticipate a full return of the orchestra program and events we have long held. Staying informed will be key so please be sure to go to provide your contact information in addition to following us on Facebook and Instagram. Please review the introductory information as we warmly welcome you to the Garfield Orchestra program and community!

Our Conductor – Bryan Kolk

Bryan Kolk is a music educator, conductor, and bassist from Michigan. He received a Bachelor of Music Education and Master in Double Bass performance from the University of Michigan. After graduating he moved to Seattle where he served as Assistant Conductor to the Everett and Bainbridge Island Youth Symphonies, taught orchestra in the Lake Washington School District, performed as principal bass of the Northwest Symphony and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, coached the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras and the Endangered Instrument Program, directed the JazzEd Introductory Ensemble, and managed the international Marrowstone Music Festival.

Orchestra Groups

Garfield has a long and nationally recognized music program celebrated through the years. In 1985 under the leadership of Marcus Tsutakawa, Garfield Orchestra was born with just 19 students.  35+ years later, Bryan Kolk leads the Garfield Orchestra program with more than 150+ students and with 3 high caliber performance ensembles representing a diverse student population celebrating the rich history of music in central Seattle.

9th Grade Orchestra (9O)Ensemble for all 9th Graders who play violin, viola, cello, and bass. Students develop skills in tone production, phrasing, rhythmic and aural acuity, and the advancement of technical skills such as shifting, vibrato, bow control, and posture.  Strings Only
No Audition
9th Only
Concert Orchestra (CO)For intermediate to advanced students of String instruments. Students develop skills in tone production, phrasing, rhythmic and aural acuity, and the advancement of technical skills.Continuation from 9th Grade Orch
Open to 10th, 11th, 12th
Symphony Orchestra (SO)This year-long performing ensemble is for advanced students of String, Wind, Brass, and Percussion instruments. Students develop advanced skills in tone production, phrasing, rhythmic and aural acuity, and the advancement of technical skills.Audition Only
Open to 10th, 11th, 12th    

Concert Attire – What to Wear?

In all orchestras, all musicians wear a mid-calf or longer black skirt or black slacks, a black dress shirt or top with sleeves, and black shoes with hose or black socks. Symphony Orchestra musicians may also choose to wear a black suit or tux with white shirt, a black bowtie, black socks, and black dress shoes. Ensure that shoulders and ankles are covered – the dress code is formal and uniform so that we convey a sense of the special nature of our performance as well as the collaboration and teamwork intrinsic to the music we are making.

Special Events, Music Festivals & Trips

In addition to the free evening concerts during the school year held at the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center, some orchestras may also participate and perform in community & fundraiser events supported by ticket fees. Orchestra groups also travel to local regional festivals and upper-level ensembles may have the opportunity to travel and perform out of state. Our trips are built on student learning, performance opportunities, and cultural immersion. An additional fee per student as well as parent chaperone volunteers will be requested to support participation of the ensemble for each class trip. The fee covers transportation, lodging (if applicable) and festival registration costs and will be communicated by Mr. Kolk and FOGO representatives upon selection of festivals for the year.

Program Activity Donation

At the beginning of the school year, we ask families to contribute a minimum activity donation so we can support the orchestra program and our students. The requested contribution is $100 per student per yearThe school district does not provide any additional funding for music programs beyond the teacher and the use of existing instruments.Through the parent support group, Friends of Garfield Orchestra (FOGO), we work to provide access to an excellent music education for all Garfield students, regardless of their level of experience or resources. With your support, the Orchestra program can purchase and repair instruments, provide coaching and group lessons, invite guest artists, purchase original music, technical equipment, and provide scholarships for festivals fees & trips.  We appreciate any extra donation amount that you may be willing to contribute. Likewise, we understand that this request may be a burden to some. Please contribute what you can. Contributions are fully tax deductible and may be matched by available employer programs.

Parent Volunteer Support

Friends of Garfield Orchestra (FOGO) is the parent organization that provides continuous volunteer and financial support for our orchestra director, student musicians, and the numerous orchestra activities.  Our mission is to set a standard of excellence in classical music education and ensure all students of diverse backgrounds can participate and excel.  More than providing financial support, FOGO also provides a wonderful parent community to connect and support each other throughout your student’s high school life. Participation creates a wonderful camaraderie and common experience as parents (and students) navigate high school and beyond.  We have many opportunities for parent involvement throughout the year.   FOGO meets monthly on the 1st Wednesday of each month, and all are welcome!  Throughout the school year, we ask parents to volunteer in the following areas. Please contact [email protected] to sign up for volunteer opportunities.

ConcertsSetup & Cleanup, Food/Bake Sales & Coordination, Program Development & Print
Special Event ConcertsTicket Sales, Setup & Cleanup, Food/Bake Sales & Coordination, Program Development & Print
Regional FestivalsTransportation Coordinator, Chaperones
Out-of-State TripsTransportation Coordinator, Lodging Coordinator, Chaperones
FOGO Board Roles & CoordinatorsServe in leadership roles managing and executing the mission of supporting the Garfield Orchestra program.

Sample Orchestra Concert Calendar

Below is a sample calendar of typical concerts, events held during the school calendar year for all orchestra programs.

9O – 9th Grade Orchestra, CO – Concert Orchestra, SO – Symphony Orchestra (QJ – Quincy Jones Perf. Arts Ctr)

AugFOGO Summer Planning Retreat – FOGO Board & Volunteers to work with Director to discuss, prioritize, finalize calendar events, volunteer needs, and budget for the upcoming school year.FOGOTBD
Mid-SepOrchestra Family Night/Potluck – Meet & Greet for returning & new families.AllTBD
Late SepOrchestra (All 3) Wknd Retreat – Weekend retreat for all orchestra students for opportunity to perform, play, practice & build friendships, and camaraderie. AllTBD  
Late OctFALL CONCERTAllQuincy Jones
Mid DecPlaceholder for Community Concert – traditionally served as classical sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah” and now re-imagined celebrating Seattle’s Central area music history.TBDTBD
Mid DecWINTER CONCERTAllQuincy Jones
Mid Jan MLK Jr WkndWinter Waltz – Annual community event & fundraiser to show off your waltzing moves on the dance floor and accompanied by the music of Garfield orchestra students. AllBenaroya Hall
Early MarchSPRING CONCERTAllQuincy Jones
Mid MarchWestern WA Festival – Annual orchestra festival held at WWU campus to perform and be adjudicated by educators.  AllWWU campus
Late MarchSymphony Orchestra Spring Trip – Opportunity to travel out-of-state and perform in orchestra festival (ie. LA, NYC)SOTBD
Early AprPops Concert – Recruitment concert with Garfield feeder MS (TOPS, Meany, Washington)AllQuincy Jones
Mid MayConcerto Concert – Senior Showcase Performances, accompanied by Symphony Orchestra.SOTBD (Offsite)
Early JuneGraduation Concert – Final concert of the school year showcasing all 3 orchestras and announcing yearly awards.AllQuincy Jones

Friends of Garfield Orchestra (FOGO)

Friends of Garfield Orchestra (FOGO) is a 501c(3) non-profit organization serving to support the Garfield Orchestra program.  Our mailing address:  PO Box 22749 | Seattle, WA 98122-0749 |

2022-23 FOGO Contacts

PresidentJaney Petty
Nancy Jensen
[email protected]
TreasurerJulia Hsieh
Peter Carlin
[email protected]
SecretaryKendra Fann[email protected]
At-LargeIzumi Matsuda-Kiami
CommunicationsSuzanne DuRard[email protected]