The Dodgen Middle School Chamber Orchestra has been invited to perform in New York City, at the National Festival of the States, in February 2019. Dodgen Orchestra Directors Ashley Culley and Heather Lofdahl submitted a nationally competitive application to Music Celebrations International (MCI), an organization that sponsors school music groups with a proven record of performance excellence from around the world. The Dodgen Chamber Orchestra was selected to perform in the prestigious festival, which begins the week of February 17, 2019. Chamber students will travel to New York for a five-day tour, featuring an exciting performance at the United Nations Building.

The Dodgen Chamber Orchestra is a select group of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students, who place into the morning ensemble by audition. Chamber students rehearse three times a week in preparation for school and community-wide performances. Dodgen’s Chamber has received regional and national distinction and was invited to perform at the G.M.E.A. (Georgia Music Educators Association) In-Service Conference in 2011, 2015 and 2018. In March 2017, Dodgen’s Chamber earned First Place (Middle School Division) at the American String Teachers Association (ASTA)-National Orchestra Festival.

For many of the Chamber students, such as eighth grade violist George Young, the upcoming trip represents a once in a lifetime experience: “This is an amazing opportunity to visit New York City for the first time. I am looking forward to performing in the United Nations building as part of the National Festival of States and spending time with my friends.” Additional trip highlights include: participating in a student workshop with Dr. Helen Cha-Pyo, conductor of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, attending a performance by the New York Philharmonic, and taking in a Broadway show.

A considerable amount of time and preparation is required in advance of a national competition experience, explains Dodgen Orchestra Co-Director Heather Lofdahl: “This trip will challenge the Chamber students to perform their music at the highest level. In addition to rehearsals three mornings per week, students began working on the repertoire for this trip in late summer. As the trip approaches, guest artists will be invited to Dodgen to work with our Chamber students. We will also provide the students with additional opportunities to perform their repertoire here in East Cobb.” The first performance incorporating this repertoire will take place on Monday, November 12 at 7pm in the Dodgen Middle School Theater. Dodgen Middle School is located at 1725 Bill Murdock Road, Marietta/East Cobb. For more information, visit