Orchestra Spotlight:
New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy

About the Ensemble

The New World Symphony New World Symphony performing at the Lincoln Theatre (click to enlarge)

The New World Symphony, a post-graduate orchestral academy located in Miami FL, is celebrating its 20th anniversary season — Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the first NWS concert at the Lincoln Theatre on February 4, 2019.

According to the NWS website, the mission of the New World Symphony is to prepare highly-gifted graduates of distinguished music programs for leadership roles in orchestras and ensembles around the world.

The NWS has come a long way in 20 years:
  • Their endowment, started by Ted Arison, founder of the Carnival Cruise Lines company, is healthy enough (over $75 million) to support 40% of their annual operating budget.
  • Many NWS fellows hold prestigious jobs in professional orchestras throughout North America and elsewhere.
  • A sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall last season, featuring guest artist Yo-Yo Ma, which garnered rave reviews.
  • Tours to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Rome.
  • The NWS has recorded 7 CDs under a special arrangement with the American Federation of Musicians: Tangazo featuring Latin-American classics, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas (affectionately known as MTT), in 1993; Four Parables, with John Nelson conducting music of the American composer Paul Schoenfield in 1994; Defining Dahl: The Music of Ingolf Dahl with MTT in 1995; the music of Villa-Lobos (featured in this spotlight) with MTT in 1997; and New World Jazz with MTT in 1998. Upcoming releases on Argo/Decca include Coptic Light, music of Morton Feldman led by MTT, and Amy Beach's piano concerto with soloist Alan Feinberg and conductor John Nelson.
  • Frank Gehry is designing a new campus for them, in consultation with Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics and Theatre Project Consultants, that should begin construction by the end of the year. It will house a 700-seat concert hall and several smaller performance spaces, all designed to meet the needs of the 87 fellows. And the building itself will make a grand statement about the NWS to the greater Miami community.
The NWS regularly attracts top-quality guest conductors, guest artists, and mentors. This season's roster includes Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Oliver Knussen, and the Orion String Quartet, among many others. The NWS makes extensive use of Internet2 to enable their fellows to work with world-class musicians remotely, and even hosts an annual Internet 2 workshop.

And the fellows' training is not just orchestral performance and individual lessons in their instruments. The NWS provides intensive training in how to take auditions, in community engagement and public speaking skills, and in musical entrepreneurship. The success of the NWS fellows in winning auditions is proof of the success of the organization. But they also seem dedicated to turning out professional orchestral musicians who are pleased to be playing in orchestras and who will be a positive influence on those orchestras.

To quote from Howard Herring, President and CEO (see page 5 of this spotlight for his full interview), "We seek to shape musician-leaders who are ready for the musical and institutional responsibilities of the orchestras in which they will perform and the larger communities where they will live and work... We hope they will be inventive, creative, and positive influences in their artistic lives, fulfilled as artists and contributors to orchestras and society at large."

Read on to learn more about this unique organization!

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