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Music For String Orchestra

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Christmas with the Nutcracker 


Kendor Music (2023) 
Grade 3.5


Did you know that Jingle Bells can fit seamlessly with the Nutcracker March? How about Dance of the Reed Flutes and Deck the Halls? These are just two of the surprises that will delight your ears in this creative mash-up of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and classic Christmas carols. In Tchaikovsky’s ballet the main character Clara dreams of far-off places and wonderous sweets accompanied by the composer’s iconic music. In Christmas with the Nutcracker one can imagine Clara waking up to the sounds of Christmas morning while visions from her dream still dance in her head.  


*J.W. Pepper Editor's Choice

Concerto in D (Telemann)

Alfred: Belwin (2014)
by G.P. Telemann, arr. LaBrie
Grade 3.5


A favorite in the violin ensemble repertoire now available for string orchestra! In this Telemann masterpiece made up of four short movements, everyone gets a chance to play the melody! Perfect for that year when advanced lower string players are ready to shift into upper positions, it allows your orchestra to explore the creativity and beauty of Baroque music. (6:30)


*J.W. Pepper Editor's Choice

*Available in Smart Music

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found tonight


Alfred: Belwin (2021)
Grade 3

Found/Tonight is the emotional mash-up of "You Will Be Found" from Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen and "The Story of Tonight" from Hamilton. First premiered by Ben Platt and Lin-Manuel Miranda at the 2018 March for Our Lives, this piece was dedicated to the kids impacted by gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida tragedy. In this arrangement for strings and optional piano, melodies get passed from voice to voice, while rich harmonies tug at your heart strings.


*J.W. Pepper Editor's Choice

*Available in SmartMusic

Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana


MakeMusic Publications (2023)
Grade 3


Lyrical. Delicate. Passionate. These words barely touch the surface of this beautiful arrangement of Intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana. Arranger Katie O'Hara LaBrie explores expressive playing with music well within reach of younger ensembles while also being an excellent option for more mature groups. An optional harp part adds depth and detail. (2:30)


*J.W. Pepper Editor's Choice

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Randall Standridge Music (2023)
Grade 3


Who’s ready to jump into shifting!? A perfect introduction to the world beyond 1st position, Jump!, by Katie O’Hara LaBrie, features shifting in all parts - not just the first violins! The apt title refers also to many jump-like concepts that can be taught on string instruments; intervals, angular rhythms, bow lifts, and even a D.S. al coda! This piece contains a wealth of educational value along with a melody that will engage even your jumpiest of students!

*J.W. Pepper Editor's Choice

Lost Galaxy: Overture & Fugue

Kjos (2023)
Grade 3.5   

People of all ages are intrigued about space travel and journeying out to the unknown. This programmatic work takes our imaginations out to where asteroids, planets, and stars reside among the galaxies. The piece begins with a short overture symbolizing the vastness of space, then moves into an exhilarating action-packed fugue that includes meter changes and dynamic parts for all sections of the orchestra. All parts will explore evolving d minor finger patterns and shifting required for cellos and basses.


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lost galaxy


Carl Fisher (2020)

Grade 3


Maelstrom is a term synonymous with whirlpool: a swirling, tumultuous whirlpool that engulfs everything around it. This exciting new piece for string orchestra starts with a treacherous storm motif that acts as the undercurrent among quotes from famous water themed compositions.  Players will learn the flowing theme from Smetana’s “Die Moldau,” explore the haunting “Aquarium” movement from Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, and bow along to a traditional Irish Sea Chanty, as melodies overlap in this musical storm. Get ready to ride the waves in this e minor work while your players develop articulation skills, explore a variety of rhythms in 6/8, and expand their chromatic and dynamic horizons.

Midnight Howl

Alfred: Belwin (2017)
Grade 3


Imagine tiptoeing through the forest on a dark, stormy night, wolves circling, while hints of the "Dies Irae" theme pound in the air! In this spooky tango students will explore an array of bow styles and fun features such as glissando, tremolo, syncopation, and clapping. Written primarily using the G harmonic minor scale, musicians will learn to be very flexible around the fingerboard. If you are looking for a piece to liven up your masquerade or Halloween concert, feel free to add a "hoooowl" at the end for an extra thrill! (2:55)


*J.W. Pepper Editor's Choice

*Available in SmartMusic

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Play that Swing

Excelcia Music Publishing (2022)
Grade 3.5


Imagine strolling down a busy downtown boulevard in the middle of the 20th century. Streetlights shining. Car horns honking. You are simply taking in the sights and sound of the city on a Saturday night. Cool music mingling in the air. In Play that Swing you will sense just that – a relaxed, yet energetic swing tune. This work, for advancing players, contains a little something for everyone, from a walking bass line to a featured violin duet, shifting to syncopation. Fun melodies and catchy chromatic riffs will leave you singing and humming all night as the orchestra Plays that Swing!

*J.W. Pepper Editor's Choice


Pride of the Highlands

FJH (2021)
Grade 3.5


Pride of the Highlands will take you on a journey to the vast countryside of Scotland. Imagine the sound of bagpipes rolling over a heather moor as the piece opens with a soli cello melody. This work for string orchestra portrays the strength and pride of the Scottish Highlanders as well as the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. All parts will enjoy playing memorable melodies while they expand their range, rhythmic understanding, and musical expression.


Commissioned by McLean High School, Mclean, VA; Starlet Smith, Director

Premiered at the 2019 Virginia State Music Educator's Conference

*Available in SmartMusic


Shadow Defenders

FJH (2022)
Grade 3


From the first note of this thrilling piece, a sense of suspense, along with an intense desire to protect and avenge leaves listeners wondering what’s looming around the corner. Let students imagine a world of possibilities in this cinematic work, while advancing their skills with independent rhythms, shifting, and interlaced syncopations that propel this journey through the shadows. Every section gets a moment to shine, including a bass feature! 


With Gratitude

Alfred: Highland/Etling (2020)
Grade 3


A flowing yet spirited composition written in memory of a bright youngster who always sought out the good things in life. Perfect for advancing string orchestras, this piece features soaring melodies, rhythmic independence, and higher positions for violin 1 and cello, all while exploring changing modalities in C major and A major. Students will learn to play expressively as they connect to the story behind the piece using the hashtag #yearofgratitude.


Performed by Highland High School (AZ) at the 2021 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic


*Available in SmartMusic

midnight howl
play swing
shadow defend
with gratitude
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