DAVID WILLIAM OERTEL, conductor of the Starlight Symphony Orchestra in Wimberley TX has won second place of The American Prize in Orchestral Programming—the Vytautas Marijosius Memorial Award, 2021, in the community orchestra division.

This is the third year in a row that David Oertel has placed for The American Prize.David previously won first place in 2019 (for the 2017-2018 season) and third place in 2020 (for the 2018-2019 season). The prize recognizes and rewards the best achievement in the unique field of orchestral programming, where the selection of repertoire by knowledgeable, creative and courageous music directors builds orchestras and audiences, educates young people and adults, and enriches the community. 

The Starlight Symphony Orchestra is a nonprofit orchestra comprised of all volunteer musicians of varying ages who reside in a variety of nearby hill country communities. The Starlight Symphony concerts are always free and open to the public.

David Oertel states, “It is such an honor to receive second place in the national competition of The American Prize for Orchestral Programming. I strive to program music for the Starlight Symphony Orchestra that is entertaining to audiences and challenging for the orchestra.”

The American Prize is the nation’s most comprehensive series of non-profit competitions in the performing arts, unique in scope and structure, designed to recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the United States based on submitted recordings.

Over the course of 2020, the orchestra halted its 2019-2020 live programming and focused on ways to bring performances to audiences virtually. Oertel was able to send orchestra members digital sheet music and have each member send a video of themselves playing their part. Oertel then created collaboration videos, showcasing several virtual orchestra performances, including “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be” by The Beatles, as well as a holiday performance of “Sleigh Ride”. The orchestra members enjoy performing both classical and pop music and rehearse diligently to present exceptional concerts. A solo competition for students is held each year, inviting top students to perform and compete for music scholarships. 

The Starlight Symphony Orchestra is currently planning for a live 2021-2022 season starting the the Fall of this year. New players are needed and welcome to join this summer’s socially-distanced rehearsals. Rehearsals are every Thursday from 7:15-9:00pm at the First Wimberley Baptist Church. New players will be evaluated at the end of summer.