Students in the Early Strings Program at Benjamin Franklin School in Newark, New Jersey

The World on Four Strings

The numbers don’t lie: eight years of assessments by Teachers College at Columbia University say that children who participate in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Early Strings Program outperform their peers districtwide by 25 to 30 percent on standardized math, literacy, and science tests. More

From Park Avenue to China. Image by Michael Rush

From Park Ave to Beijing: An American Orchestra in China

What happens when an orchestra of dedicated amateur musicians heads out on a tour of China? What’s life on the road like for orchestras encountering multiple concert halls, differing cultural norms, and planes, trains, and automobiles in a foreign country? How do musicians stay in artistic shape while traveling? And what about all that great Chinese food? More

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg with the New Century Chamber Orchestra

West Coast Metamorphosis

What does it take to make the transformation from high-profile soloist to music director of an orchestra? Just ask violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. In 2008, she joined the New Century Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless all-string ensemble based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was charged with reinvigorating the orchestra and raising its national profile. More

Madison Symphony Orchestra Co-Concertmaster Suzanne Beia, violinist Laura Burns, Principal Violist Chris Dozoryst, and Principal Cellist Karl Lavine work with children in the MSO's HeartStrings program

HeartStrings, By the Book

How effective is music as medicine? Very effective, to judge from feedback about a program Wisconsin’s Madison Symphony has operated since 2005. The Madison Symphony is making a strong case for the healing power of music with HeartStrings, a music-therapy-based program for people with developmental disabilities, long-term illnesses, and dementia. And they’re showing other orchestras how, with a new toolkit just published. More

A Call to Action

A Call to Action

How should classical-music organizations today balance their tradition of artistic excellence while creating something that everyone can share? In his “call to action,” Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, argues for an integrated approach to serving both music and our wider communities. Gillinson’s address was delivered at the 67th National Conference of the League of American Orchestras in Dallas, Texas on June 8, 2012. More

Boston Symphony Hall stage

Poll: Do orchestral auditions need a facelift?

As the Olympics get into full swing, many are the tales of instant glory, where just a few minutes— seconds, even—can seem to completely change a person’s life. In the orchestra world, a similar reality exists for Mike Tetreault and the countless of other classical musicians who take auditions every year. Tetreault was recently the subject of an extensive Boston magazine article by Jennie Dorris and subsequent NPR segment recounting his preparation process for an (ultimately unsuccessful) audition to fill two simultaneous percussion openings at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. More

A bystander documents a flashmob performance by the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne, Germany.

Poll: Can’t We Just Listen Anymore?

A comment on a recent YouTube video of a flashmob orchestra performance has touched a raw nerve. The objection wasn’t to the YouTube performance itself, which was charming—music from Star Wars performed outdoors by the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne, Germany—and can be viewed here and here. So what’s the problem? Nowadays at a “spontaneous” musical flashmob, almost no one watches the performance. Instead, bystanders are busy making video recordings of that performance. Of course, every orchestra hopes people will document these performances and share with friends. But an audience full of people all recording the performance maybe isn’t what they were hoping for, as it removes the event’s live, in-the-moment aspect. As that YouTube commenter put it, “I think it is crazy now how nobody can just watch a thing. They have to pull out their iPhones or cameras and watch it through the screen to record it.” More

The Oberlin College Choir rehearses at Oberlin Conservatory. Photo by Will Roane

Oberlin in The City, Part 2

From the cornfields of Ohio to the East Coast’s bustling musical metropolis. The Oberlin Conservatory’s 2013 Illumination Tour took place January 15-19 with students and faculty a in residence in New York City, collaborating with a handful of renowned alumni on four concerts throughout the city. The residency kicked off with the Oberlin Faculty Jazz Ensemble performing standards and originals at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola on January 15. On January 18, the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, led by Timothy Weiss, headed to the DiMenna Center for Classical Music to give the world premiere of John Zorn’s The Tempest with Joshua Rubin (Oberlin class of ’00) on clarinet. Also on the program were three works by Oberlin alumni More

The New York Philharmonic’s push notifications alert fans to new content, like this recording featuring Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Anatomy of an App

Once upon a time, if you wanted to attend an orchestra concert, your evening might go something like this: look up a box-office phone number on a physical brochure to purchase tickets; ask friends for recommendations for a dinner spot; dub the symphony you’re about to see from your record player More

London’s Westminster Abbey on April 29, during the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Courtesy Press Association.

Who’s the Royal Music Man?

It’s not every day the music director of an American symphony orchestra is called upon to be a central player in one of the highest-profile weddings ever. But that’s exactly what happened to Christopher Warren-Green, music director of the Charlotte Symphony in North Carolina, who was the music man behind the British royal wedding on April 29. More

Paul Freeman led his final concerts as Chicago Sinfonietta music director May 22nd and 23rd.

Chicago Relay

This weekend was a historic one for the Chicago Sinfonietta and its founder, Paul Freeman. The conductor, who has served as music director for the orchestra’s entire 24-year existence, led his final concerts in that post May 22 and 23. The concerts served as a literal “passing of the baton” More

The Mankato Symphony performs throughout Minnesota this month with the Santee Dakota Maza Kute Drummers. Standing: Mankato Symphony Music Director Kenneth Freed (left) and composer Brent Michael Davids.

Powwow in Mankato

For many Americans, the first association with the year 1862 is the Civil War. But for Native Americans, there is also a vivid association with the Dakota War of 1862, a conflict between the Dakota people and the United States that ended in the mass execution of 38 Dakota members on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota. It’s an event that still registers large in local memory. This year, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra launched the Dakota Music Tour in Minnesota, a musical response to the events of 1862. More

Innovation logo designed by Mike Rush

Orchestra as Sustainable Ecosystem

Innovation: is it the word of the year for orchestras? On June 7, the opening plenary session of the League’s National Conference in Minneapolis will tackle the issue of how orchestras create an environment for innovation with insights from Deborah Borda, Larry Wendling, and Katie Wyatt, leaders who are committed to innovative thinking at their organizations. More

Alondra de la Parra witih Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas

POA Discusses Decision to Suspend Operations

On June 3, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas made the announcement that it would suspend operations. The New York-based orchestra, founded in 2004 by Mexican conductor and pianist Alondra de la Parra, said the decision arose from what it described as a substantial increase in operating costs, compounded by the anticipated decrease in corporate funding and government support. More

Florida Orchestra woodwind quintet members

Havana-Tampa Bay Exchange

Just a few weeks ago, The Florida Orchestra surprised the arts world with the announcement that it will conduct a cultural exchange with Cuba over the next several years, with the first visit by its musicians to Havana set for this September. More


Victory Lap

Back in October, Symphony invited six exciting up-and-coming young musicians to discuss the state of classical music and the challenges of launching a solo career for a feature in the Winter issue. Among them was Narek Hakhnazaryan. The 22-year-old Armenian cellist was already preparing for a busy season More

Charleston Symphony musicians

Southern Revival

Recent bankruptcies and strikes have tended to grab most of the headlines, but one orchestra to suffer the slings and arrows of the downturn for months in relative silence was South Carolina’s Charleston Symphony. In early February 2009, More

Metropolis at Poisson Rouge, January 2011

Flexibility Zone

One chamber orchestra that has been making a splash in New York’s contemporary classical arena is the Metropolis Ensemble. Established in 2006 by artistic director Andrew Cyr with the mission of nurturing young and emerging composers and performers, Metropolis has performed in venues from the Chelsea Art Museum and Greenwich Village’s Le Poisson Rouge to the Angel Orensanz Center on the Lower East Side and an entire brownstone building in Brooklyn. More

Classical Revolution

Tea and Symphony

Classical Revolution started in 2006 at the Revolution Café in San Francisco when several musicians in need of a performance space met there to perform chamber music. The idea was for musicians to just show up and play. There was no set program. If they had the musicians and music for a string quartet, they played quartets. If a clarinetist or flutist came, then they played a piece incorporating that instrument. It was very informal. The idea caught on and soon musicians from other cities started their own chapters. The musicians appreciate the opportunity to play together, but it is equally important for them to bring classical music to new audiences in a very accessible way.


Brooklyn Philharmonic Music Director Alan Pierson

Brooklyn Reboot

Sometimes a clean slate has the most creative potential. That is certainly what the Brooklyn Philharmonic and new music director Alan Pierson seem to be discovering as they embark on their first full season together. Founded in 1857, the Brooklyn Philharmonic had flourished under forward-thinking artistic leadership, most recently Michael Christie and before him Robert Spano, before the economy forced the organization to cut back operations to education initiatives and a smattering of community concerts in early 2009. But this past January, the Philharmonic board appointed Pierson, known best for his work with vanguard new music groups Alarm Will Sound and Bang on a Can, to help resurrect the ensemble for the 2011-12 season. More