Ascension offers three levels of orchestral instruction: Orchestra I for beginners, Orchestra II for intermediates, and Orchestra III for those most advanced. Eleonora Lopez, a Yale School of Music graduate, has been the Director of Orchestras since 2000. She teaches all levels of Ascension’s Orchestra program and has taught in the Suzuki program at Amarillo College. Mrs. Lopez is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, has taught at Interlochen Arts Camp, and has been selected to the Who's Who Among America's Teachers.
Beginning and Intermediate Students participate in the Amarillo Youth Orchestra Program, All Region Middle School and High School Orchestra and the Greater Southwest Music Festival. The Advanced Orchestra has participated and earned honors as State Champion and Runner Up in the TAPPS Instrumental Contest (2000-2012), and has earned Superior ratings and Best in Class in several contests across Texas and Colorado. They also earned Grand Champion trophies from the Winter Park Ski Music Festival (2009, 2015), the Spring in the Park Music Festival (2010), and the Alamo Showcase of Music (2014.)
The solo literature covered in the class encompasses Suzuki Book 1 through mid-Suzuki Book 2 for violin, viola, cello, or string bass. Easy level beginning orchestral pieces are taught, and basic music reading skills, listening skills, and playing skills are developed through group lessons and one-on-one teaching. This class is appropriate for students that have no prior experience and up to one year of experience.
The intermediate level students, mid-Suzuki book 2 through Suzuki Book 4, develop their skills performing pieces from the Texas Prescribed Music List (PML) Grade 2, 3, or 4. This class is appropriate for students that have been playing stringed instruments for two to four years.
The Advanced Orchestra is comprised of the top string students at Ascension. The orchestra performs pieces at the most difficult level from the PML. Musicianship skills are enhanced through solo repertoire as well as chamber music repertoire. This orchestra participates in a yearly contest and trip.