About The Institute

Collaborate, Learn and Explore Contemporary Music Today.
All levels of interest and experience in new music are welcome! Mostly Modern is the place to explore and learn about contemporary classical music in a welcoming setting.

The Mostly Modern Festival (MMF) Institute is the educational component of the Mostly Modern Festival.

“Mostly Modern” is an immersive experience: participants perform side-by-side with faculty, both with the American Modern Orchestra (AMO) and with chamber music. In AMO, participants and faculty perform orchestral world premieres and new works that are quickly gaining a following in the new music scene. Everyone engages in a learning atmosphere inside and outside rehearsal. Mostly Modern is a place for you to explore & network with faculty and participants, and create new opportunities, outside normative career-paths of traditional-orchestral/rep/teaching-training and find work that fits your passion, with new and exciting music-making.

Chamber music is a cornerstone of the Mostly Modern experience. During the three week festival we offer the opportunity to perform in three chamber concerts, plus pop-ups. Participants are put in the driver seat in a collaborative effort to program, rehearse, and perform 20th Century onward repertoire.

Participants have the opportunity to perform in masterclasses instructed by some of the nations leading artists in contemporary music. Participants also enhance their skill set through a select number of entrepreneurial courses and lectures given by our Artist Faculty.

The institute accepts over 100 students and has over 30 faculty members. Mostly Modern Festival features the residential American Modern Orchestra and American Modern Ensemble, 4 guest ensembles, over 10 guest speakers, and 15 concerts . The Institute is open to musicians ages 18, and ALL ages and stages of their career.

Mostly Modern Festival takes place at Skidmore College at the Arthur Zankel Music Center. Skidmore College is ideally located in Saratoga Springs, New York, 3 hours by car from NYC, Boston, Philadelphia and Montreal. All public performances take place at the stunning Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall, a 600-seat acoustically tuned space. Participants go home with amazing 3-camera shot performance videos and top-of-the-line audio of their works and performances.


  • Play 3 orchestra concerts with top conductors: features world premieres, and perform with side-by-side with our Artist Faculty.

  • Receive 3 private lessons and studio class/sectional as planned by faculty.

  • Audition for Concerto Competition (choose a work 20th Century onward). 2 winners chosen to perform with AMOrchestra the following summer.

  • Perform in chamber ensemble concerts where you choose your repertoire and sign up.

  • Access to all masterclasses, a VIP pass to everything, including 3 parties: welcoming, opening and closing night parties.

  • Check this page for American Modern Orchestra instrumentation.


  • Conduct the American Modern Ensemble.

  • Conduct the orchestra readings of the American Modern Orchestra.

  • 2 conductors chosen to perform and conduct the American Modern Orchestra, one each week.

  • Seminar-masterclass with all three conductors.

  • Receive top-of-the-line 3 camera-shot video (link to video posted on the MMF YouTube page) of your performance(s) at the festival.

  • Receive one-camera-shot (orchestra perspective) video (link to video posted on the MMF YouTube page) of selected rehearsal(s) during the festival, to review with conducting faculty, and for future archival use.

  • Access to all masterclasses, a VIP pass to everything at the festival including 3 parties: welcoming, opening and closing night parties.


  • Perform opera scenes, arias and song cycles from the 20th & 21st centuries. One concert per week.

  • Receive private lessons/coaching with vocal faculty members and work with one-on-one with stage directors.

  • Rehearsals and coachings during the week, dress rehearsals and performances in stunning Zankel Hall of modern arias and song-cycles.

  • Access to all masterclasses, a VIP pass to everything, including 3 parties: welcoming, opening and closing night parties.


  • Perform in institute concerts at the stunning Zankel Hall.

  • Opportunities to perform chamber music, solo works, orchestral and vocal repertoire.

  • Receive private lessons/coachings with piano faculty members.

  • Seminars, lectures, and masterclasses by our Artist Faculty (see Institute Events for details).

  • Access to all masterclasses, a VIP pass to everything, including 3 parties: welcoming, opening and closing night parties.

Composers (up to 30 composers accepted)  

  • Receive a fully-professional, live performance from American Modern Ensemble or one of the resident guest ensembles.

  • Up to 15 composers receive an orchestral reading of a piece (or excerpt or movement from a larger work) up to 7 minutes in duration with the American Modern Orchestra.

  • Two composers are chosen to a have their work fully-rehearsed and performed by the American Modern Orchestra.

  • Go home with top-of-the-line 3 camera-shot video (video posted on the MMF YouTube page) and audio WAV file of your performance.

  • Professional ensembles work intimately with composers in rehearsals, the dress and the performance.

  • Private lessons/meetings with the Composition Faculty. (Meetings/lessons are generally taught in pairs with two composition participants per hour. Additional meetings/lessons available at the discretion of the composition faculty.)

  • Access to all masterclasses, a VIP pass to everything at the festival, including 3 parties: welcoming, opening and closing night parties.

Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall

Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall

All Zankel Hall (Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall) performances are recorded and fully edited for participants: both audio and video. Composers and conductors receive audio WAV files and links to polished videos of their performances (shot with 3 cameras) posted on MMF's YouTube channel. Composers who take part in the orchestral readings receive un-edited audio recordings of their readings (editing available for an additional fee). 

There are three or more chamber concerts that will provide an opportunity for participants and faculty to showcase contemporary repertoire of their choice. Performers will be given guidelines and may submit proposals for pieces they'd like to play. Works will be chosen on a first-come first-serve basis, based on time and programming considerations. 

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for further information and for answers to questions not covered here.

Mostly Modern Festival is a division of American Modern Ensemble, Inc., a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.