A musical homecoming
New World Symphony alumni
return to Miami Beach for a special concert,
reviewed by LAWRENCE BUDMEN
For seventeen years the New World Symphony (NWS) has been a Mecca for gifted young conservatory graduates. The training orchestra (based in Miami Beach, Florida, USA) has had 600 alumni assume positions in orchestral and chamber music groups (as well as teaching positions in major music education institutions) -- a placement rate of ninety five percent. On 28 April 2005 the orchestra celebrated A Musical Homecoming at the Lincoln Theater. Twenty-one alumni joined the current ensemble in a joyous celebration of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas's 60th birthday.
The players brought tremendous enthusiasm to this musical reunion. Cellist David Low is now a studio musician and orchestral contractor in Hollywood. A charter member of the New World Symphony in 1988, Low has played on the soundtracks of 600 films. 'This is a rare opportunity to go back in time, to take off some of the layers of what you do everyday, and to see old friends,' Low said. Recalling his time in the orchestra Low added 'Tilson Thomas always emphasized the beauty of sound. "Never make an ugly sound" he would reiterate. Today the orchestra has the same enthusiasm and focus but they are even better and more competitive.' Low added that California's Pacific Symphony has many former New World players in its ranks. As a contractor for the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra he often hires these musicians. On a personal note Low found the concert to be 'a wonderful way to reconnect with old friends from 1988. This reunion has been unbelievable.'
Catherine Ransom Karoly with Michael Tilson Thomas at Tilson Thomas's Miami Beach home, taken at an alumni reunion luncheon
For flutist Catherine Ransom Karoly (now a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) three years with the NWS (1993-96) were 'a special time. There was willingness and freedom to take risks that strongly impacted the character of my playing. Michael Tilson Thomas was an inspiration. Today he is even more articulate.' She has seen NWS alumni gain greater respect in the orchestral world over the past decade. As a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic auditions panel, Ransom Karoly finds New World players have an edge in the competitive process.
Copyright © 16 June 2005
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA