Summer Music Institute
National Symphony Orchestra
Every summer, approximately 70 students (ages 15-20) from all over the nation meet in Washington, D.C., to attend the National Symphony Orchestra's Summer Music Institute (SMI). The Institute offers four weeks of private lessons, rehearsals, coaching by National Symphony Orchestra members, classes, and lectures to prepare aspiring musicians for their futures in music.
Through the generosity of the Orchestra’s National Trustees, one student from Iowa may be chosen to attend on scholarship. While it is the Kennedy Center's intention to have one student from each participating state, the NSO judges have the final selection. As this is a youth orchestra configuration, there are times when we do not have a suitable pool of candidates from a given state to meet our needs, or there are too many students who play the same instrument.
Bethany Wheeler is a 19 year old aspiring classical harpist from Hiawatha, Iowa. She studied from 2001 to 2003 with Sarah Mally, and from 2003 to 2020 with Gretchen Brumwell, including five years at the Cedar Rapids Symphony School, and one year at Coe College, where she began her pursuit of a music degree in harp performance. Bethany is currently completing her college education at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Yolonda Kondonassis. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2013.
Ms. Wheeler has performed with several Eastern Iowa area orchestras, including serving as co-principal harpist with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra during the 2009-10 season, and serving as the principal harpist in two Iowa City Community Theater productions.
Bethany has also participated in multiple summer music programs. She attend the Five Season's Chamber Festival in 2005 and 2008 for flute, and again in 2010 for harp. She attended the Northern Iowa Summer Harp Workshop at the University of Northern Iowa in both 2005 and 2007, and The Young Artist's Harp Seminar in Rebun Gap, Georgia, in 2008 and 2009.
Most recently, Ms. Wheeler has participated in the 2010 National Symphony Orchestra's Summer Music Institute in Washington, DC. She is the first Iowan to ever be accepted to this prestigious program.