The National Orchestral Institute + Festival’s Smithsonian String Quartet Seminar is a pioneering new partnership with the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, allowing students a nationally unique opportunity to experience the rare and historic instruments housed in the collection at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.. This opportunity is open to all students, not just those with previous experience in historically informed performance. 

Two string quartets arrive in College Park several days prior to the start of NOI+F for an intensive rehearsal process. Historic Performance expert Dr. Kenneth Slowik, Artistic Director of the Smithsonian Chamber Players and curator of the Musical Instrument Collection in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, coaches quartets on aspects of historically informed performance techniques including style, color, vibrato, intonation and tuning systems. The quartets then spend time at the museum rehearsing on the Stradivari and Amati instruments and culminating in a special performance held at the music hall in the National Museum of American History. 

  • Participants for the Smithsonian String Quartet Seminar are chosen from the NOI+F Orchestral Fellowship application pool. Apply through the Orchestral Fellowship application and select “yes” that you would like to be considered for the Smithsonian Seminar. Successful applicants will be notified in their acceptance letter.

  • All Smithsonian Fellows receive a full scholarship covering tuition, program fee and housing in an apartment style double room for the entire festival.

  • Smithsonian fellows arrive five days prior to the start of NOI+F and must participate in the entirety of the orchestral fellowship including regular orchestra rotation. 

  • All who are 18 or older by May 29, 2024 may apply. The typical age range for NOI+F is 18 - 30 years old.

  • This fellowship is open to violin, viola and cello applicants. 

Key Dates

  • Smithsonian Fellows Arrival Date: Friday, May 24, 2024

  • Smithisonian Fellows Departure Date: Thursday, July 11, 2024

  • Application opens: November 1, 2023

  • Applications due: February 6, 2024, 11:59PM ET

  • Admission decisions: March 1, 2024


Apply + Audition

2024 Application Requirements

  • To apply for the Smithsonian String Quartet Seminar you must apply through the regular NOI+F Orchestral Fellowship Application.

  • Select “yes” that you would like to be considered for the Smithsonian Seminar in the Orchestral Fellowship Application.

Orchestral Fellowship Audition Repertoire can be found here. There is no additional repertoire required to be considered for the Smithsonian String Quartet Seminar.


Dr. Kenneth Slowik

Artistic Director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, Kenneth Slowik first established his international reputation primarily as a cellist and viola da gamba player through his work with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, Castle Trio, Smithson String Quartet, Axelrod Quartet, and with Anner Bylsma’s L’Archibudelli. Conductor of the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra since 1988, he became conductor of the Santa Fe Bach Festival in 1998 and led the Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra from 1999 to 2004. He has been a soloist and/or conductor with numerous other orchestras, including the National Symphony, the Baltimore, Vancouver and Québec symphonies, the Filharmonia Sudecka, the Pleven Philharmonic, the Polska Orkiestra Sinfonia Iuventus, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra.

Questions + Additional Information

If you have additional questions or would like additional information, contact us at or 301.405.2317.