May 21, 2014

A Visit to the New World Symphony

Publisher's Note: Recently I was able to visit the New World Center, home of Miami Beach, Florida’s own New World Symphony. Although I knew some things about the New World Symphony, my visit proved extremely educational. If you get an opportunity, make sure to visit the state of the art home for the phenomenal program for young musicians. 

The New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy (NWS), prepares graduates of distinguished Music programs for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles. In the 26 years since its inception, NWS has helped launch the careers of more than 900 alumni worldwide.

A laboratory for the way music is taught, presented and experienced, the New World Symphony, under the artistic direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, consists of 87 young musicians who are granted fellowships lasting up to three years. Modeled after the demands of a professional orchestra, the program offers in­-depth exposure to traditional and modern repertoire, professional development training and personalized experiences working with leading guest conductors, soloists and visiting faculty. Relationships with these artists are extended through NWS’ pioneering experimentation with distance learning via the internet.

NWS Fellows take advantage of the innovative performance facilities and state-of-the­-art practice and ensemble rooms of the Frank Gehry­-designed New World Center, the campus of the New World Symphony.

In the hopes of joining NWS, more than 1500 recent music school and conservatory graduates compete for about 35 available fellowships each year. Fellows are selected for this highly competitive, prestigious opportunity based on their ability and their passion for the future of classical music.


The New World Symphony’s fellowship program consists of an in­-depth course of instructional and performance activities designed to expand the musical and professional horizons of NWS Fellows beyond music school and conservatory training.

Master Classes, Coachings and Private Lessons

New World’s coaching program is unique in its depth and breadth, bringing internationally acclaimed conductors, soloists, and some 100 mentors from the world’s great orchestras to conduct an intensive schedule of master classes, private lessons and sectionals with New World Fellows.

Audition Training and Performance Psychology

The New World Symphony prepares each Fellow for the make­-or-break experience of the orchestral audition. Each year, NWS holds an intensive four-­-day audition training seminar with visiting coaches from major orchestras. NWS provides training by former Olympic sports psychologist Dr. Don Greene,who has been a pioneer in adapting the strategies of sports psychology to help musicians achieve optimal performance in high­-pressure settings. In addition, Fellows regularly hold mock auditions to help prepare for upcoming professional auditions.

Performance Opportunities

Performance opportunities include numerous full­-orchestra concerts, a chamber music series, new music series, small ensemble concerts, family series, and special festivals and recitals. The program also offers Fellows the opportunity to design and present their own concerts, which often feature seldom­-heard works or unusual instrumentation.

Communications Training

NWS emphasizes that musicians must be able to express themselves verbally as well as musically. To that end, Fellows receive training in communications and stage presence, the scope of which includes speaking to audiences from the stage and engaging in informal conversation with patrons and audience members, as well as media interview techniques.

Community Engagement Training

Training for community engagement is an essential part of the NWS program, with activities ranging from mentoring in local schools to free concerts in community centers, churches and synagogues. These activities provide real-­-life experience in establishing a direct artist­-to­-audience connection while sharpening presentation, speaking and teaching skills.


The New World Symphony’s success may be measured in part by the more than 750 alumni who are active in the music profession worldwide. There is a New World Symphony presence in nearly all of America’s major orchestras, as well as symphonies and chamber orchestras in Europe, South America and the Far East. In addition, many New World Symphony musicians have chosen career paths in chamber music, music education and arts management.


NWS has built global community of the world’s finest performers, educators and Composers who directly transfer their music knowledge and Insight to New World Symphony Fellows, both in Miami Beach and Via Internet2. Internet2, with its enormous bandwidth, speed and quality, Offers a medium perfectly suited to the rigorous demands of musical distance learning, making it possible for artists to address the subtlest aspects of technical and musical performance. In 2001, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the New World Symphony $200,000 technology grant launching NWS’ Internet2 activities. Internet2 is now an integral part of NWS’ overall education mission.


The New World Symphony is currently in the midst of year-long Support curriculum for a social service/music education program organized by the Orquestra Filarmónicade Medellín and EAFIT University in Medellín, Colombia. Colombian conductor Alejandro Posada (Principal Conductor Of the Orquesta Sinfónicade Castilla y León) leads this program, serving 5,000 children and teenagers in the Medellín metropolitan area, the majority from underprivileged circumstances. Like Venezuela’s El Sistema, this is a social program in nature, designed to use skill­-based musical instrument instruction to develop confidence and self­-expression in each and every young participant. The results of the El Sistema program in Venezuela are exemplary. Maestro Posada and his colleagues in the Orquestra Filarmónica and EAFIT University are applying lessons learned by the El Sistema program but tailoring it to the specific needs of youngsters in Medellín. To further his mission, Maestro Posada has invited New World Fellows to help train the 100 most talented students through master classes and individual lessons.

New World Symphony is uniquely suited for this work. The musical learning process requires consistent delivery of instruction. NWS Fellows deliver this training to students in Medellín over the internet on a weekly basis. Each practice and ensemble room in New World Center is wired for Internet transmission with remote teaching programs in mind. It is important to note, however, that in­-person interaction is required to maximize the educational benefit. Therefore, in addition to connecting with 100 of the most talented Medellín students over the Internet, a team of New World Fellows will travel to Medellín three times during the academic year for in­-person music lessons, and side­-by­-side full orchestra rehearsals and performances. Additionally, five of the finest Medellín students will come to Miami twice during the season for instruction and to be part of the New World Symphony family for week, participating in side­-by­-side chamber rehearsals and performances. These select and most talented Medellín students will directly benefit from this program. They will carry their new expertise and energy into the many youth orchestras of Medellín, extending the program to the 5,000 total participants. New World Symphony Fellows will observe the inner workings of this social­-service­-through­-classical­-music model, and gain valuable experience that they will bring to the communities in which they secure professional positions.