New Century Chamber Orchestra Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

Janos Gereben on May 2, 2016
The New Century Chamber Orchestra | Credit: NCCO


The New Century Chamber Orchestra’s next season is doubly significant, as the ensemble marks its 25th anniversary and features farewell concerts with Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, who says:

Our silver anniversary season celebrates the extraordinary achievements that New Century has accomplished over the last quarter of a century. Having the privilege of being music director for the past nine years has been a transformative experience. As my tenure as music director comes to a close, I leave with a great amount of pride for what we have achieved as an ensemble.

New Century is firmly placed on the map as one of the best string orchestras performing and recording today, which is a testament to this group of dedicated and talented musicians that I am proud to call my family.”

Running from September 15 through May 20, 2017, the season opens with concerts  in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Marin headlined by Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan, who received rave reviews on the San Francisco Symphony’s recent East Coast tour. He is featured in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 13 in C Major. Also on the program are Anton Webern’s Langsamer Satz and Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 3.

Australian-Taiwanese violinist Ray Chen will perform and act as guest concertmaster Nov. 10–13, in a program of Mozart, Britten, and Elgar.

Salerno-Sonnenberg returns next March to lead Americans in Paris, featuring the music of Gershwin, Stravinsky, and Ned Rorem, plus French-in-Paris Fauré and Satie. Chanticleer joins New Century to perform a selection of songs from Piaf, Gershwin, Blossom Dearie, and Chet Baker.

Something new to close the season: the 25th Anniversary Festival, which serves up different highlights of NCCO history over the course of three nights. The festival opens on May 16, 2017, with works by Derek Bermel, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Jennifer Higdon, William Bolcom, Clarice Assad, Mark O’Connor, Michael Daugherty, and Lera Auerbach.

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg | Credit: Kristin Hoebermann

The Farewell to Nadja program on May 18 features Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor and Symphony No 10, plus Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

On May 20, the closing Silver Jubilee Celebration is an all-Gershwin program — An American in Paris Suite, Rhapsody in Blue (original version for jazz band), and selected songs.

In addition to continuing with her career as an internationally acclaimed violin soloist and chamber musician, Salerno-Sonnenberg is now Resident Artist in Music at Loyola University New Orleans, a century-old Jesuit school with more than 40,000 graduates in important careers around the world. The position requires a great deal of her time and is a major reason for Salerno-Sonnenberg’s leaving NCCO.

NCCO has released six compact discs, the last two — Together and LIVE: Barber, Strauss, Mahler — on Salerno-Sonnenberg’s NSS Music label. The orchestra’s first concert DVD, filmed by Paola di Florio, director of the 1999 Academy Award-nominated film Speaking in Strings, was released in 2012. The DVD weaves together documentary footage and a live 2011 performance at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.