Santa Monica High School’s orchestra program proved once again why it is considered one of the nation’s best, with the Samohi Philharmonic Orchestra taking first place and a gold rating in the full orchestra category at the San Francisco Bay Area Heritage Music Festival on May 31.

The program includes six different orchestras, including two symphonies, with more than 400 students, said Rebecca Kennerly with the Santa Monica High School Orchestra Parents Association.

The Philharmonic’s scores were also the highest of all the instrumental groups in the festival, which gave them another first place honor as the best instrumental group. Additionally, the orchestra received an Adjudicator Award, given to orchestras that score above a 92 in the festival.

Last spring, Samohi’s two highest ensembles, the Symphony and Chamber orchestras, swept top awards at the All-Southern California Heritage Festival in Anaheim.

On Saturday, June 11, at 6 p.m., the Samohi orchestras’ award-winning student musicians will perform at their annual Senior Gala. The concert is open to the public and takes place at Barnum Hall. Tickets are available at the door; $10 general admission, $5 for seniors and students.

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