About Us

The Orchestras at Albemarle HS, Jack Jouett MS, and Lakeside MS are in Albemarle County Public Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, and have been directed by Carrie Finnegan for 20 years. The orchestras are committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment to serve students in playing bowed orchestral instruments and making a variety of music together. Albemarle Orchestras is committed to a high standard of musicianship and a sense of community by its members.


The Albemarle Orchestras are proud to boast the following achievements: 

  • Superior ratings at district assessments since 2007

  • First Place and Superior Ratings at seventeen national competitions

  • 2011 and 2016 Cruise Festival Grand Championships

  • Albemarle High School String Ensemble performance at the 2011 VMEA Conference 

  • Albemarle High School music program awarded the VMEA Blue Ribbon Award for 13 consecutive years.

Director of the orchestras, Carrie Finnegan, is a 2002 graduate of James Madison University. She studied violin with Dr. Wanchi Huang, violin and conducting with Dr. Robert McCashin, and served as vice president of the JMU ASTA chapter.


Originally from Woodbridge, Virginia, Mrs. Finnegan began playing violin in her middle school orchestra, which instilled her passion for school orchestra and music education. She was a member and vice president of the award-winning orchestras at Woodbridge High School under the tutelage of Mr. Bud Hearne and a member and orchestra librarian of the Youth Orchestras of Prince William.


Mrs. Finnegan began her teaching career with the orchestras here and has grown the program from just 36 students to over 250 students. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Finnegan has served as the State Orchestra Representative for VBODA since 2012 and enjoys serving on numerous committees for the state including the VMEA Conference Planning Committee. One of her passions is serving her alma mater as the Logistics Director for the JMU Spring String Thing Camp. She was recently honored by JMU with the Outstanding Music Educator Alumni Award. 


Aside from a busy work and family life, she enjoys adjudication opportunities and guest conducting for regional and county orchestras. Mrs. Finnegan resides in Charlottesville with her husband, Kerry, who enjoys performing with The Charlottesville Band, and two sons, Brady and Quinn, who are budding violinists themselves.


Emily Kostanecki is the Teaching Assistant for the Albemarle, Jouett, Sutherland Orchestras. She grew up in Charlottesville and started the cello in 6th grade at Sutherland Middle School under Mrs. Finnegan. Emily continued cello through high school as a member of the String Ensemble at Albemarle High School. Her favorite part about orchestra was participating in performances and events like District Assessment, Junior Regional Orchestra, and the JMU Spring String Thing.


Upon graduation, Emily went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in Classics from Georgetown University and a Master of Arts in Historic Preservation from the University of York in England. She spent her summers throughout high school and college working at the Triple C camp and developing a love of working with kids.


Outside of work, Emily enjoys taking care of her guinea pigs, playing soccer, being outdoors, cooking, traveling, and petting her cat.