The Festival String Orchestra, an ensemble of nearly 140 string players, is conducted by Juan Tony Guzmán, Luther professor in music. The ensemble's repertoire includes Marcello's "Adagio and Allegro;" Robert Sieving's arrangement of Mikail Glinka's "Russland and Ludmilla;" Richard Meyer's "Incantations;" Jeffrey E. Turner's arrangement of the Irish folk song "The Last Rose of Summer;" and Bob Phillips' arrangement of Bill Monroe's "Bluegrass Fiddle Frenzy."
The Festival Chamber Orchestra, a select ensemble of around 55 string players, is conducted by University of Texas Director of Orchestras Eugene Dowdy. The ensemble's repertoire includes Vivaldi's Concerto in D Minor from "L'estro armonico," Op. 3 No. 11; Grieg's Holberg Suite, Op. 40, Movements I, II and V; and Jeremy Cohen's arrangement of a Kenyan tune for string quartet titled "Jambo."
All festival participants are nominated by their high school orchestra conductors. Both the string and chamber orchestras feature high school students from the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Students have a chance to participate in rehearsals, lessons, masterclasses and technique classes with Luther string faculty.
As current holder of the Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music, Guzmán is the director of Luther College's Jazz Orchestra as well as Luther's jazz program. He frequently serves as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator at festivals across North America, Central and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Guzmán also is the 2018 recipient of the Carlo A. Sperati Award for achievement in music education.
With a 22 year-long tenure as a professor and director of orchestral studies, Dowdy conducts the UTSA Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra, and the Lyric Theatre Orchestra. Dowdy is an active guest conductor, having appeared with orchestras and festivals around the United States as well as in in Mexico, Austria, France and Italy. Additionally, he is the founding director of the UTSA String Project, a part of an organization centered around promoting string education in public schools.