The New World Symphony was established in 1987 and moved into its new home, a stunning futuristic building of internationally acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, in 2011. 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 New World Symphony trains the finest young musicians with the best professional training and the Symphony has been heard in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Paris’ Bastille Opera. As well, it has been televised internationally.
In additional to its role in the community and the classical music world at large as an institution of education, the New World Symphony invites the public in, and out, for performances. A yearlong calendar of events showcases the Symphony’s students in performances under the direction of visiting conductors, and in solo shows.
The Building and Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry may seem like a natural choice to design an arts building in a prime location, but there’s more to the story. The Los Angeles based architect of famed “deconstructive” style and popular buildings like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and so many more, has left a tremendous mark on contemporary architecture in buildings all over the world.
But, the story of how Gehry signed on as the architect of the New World Symphony is more than just a big name signing onto a new project; it’s personal. Michael Tilson Thomas, artistic director of the New World Symphony, was baby-sat as a child by the young future architect.
The white stucco building looks at home in Miami. Gehry’s design was meant to blend in with the architecture of the area, while still reflective of Gehry’s thumbprint. Unlike some of Gehry’s more structural public pieces like the towering titanium structure that looks like dozens of pieces of paper folded and bent into a concert hall in Los Angeles, this building was meant to be a center of education for young musicians. Gehry has said that the design is meant to be forgiving, for young people who might bang a violin case or a music stand against a wall.
The 756 seat main hall is a comparatively intimate theater, conjoined to a series of rehearsal halls where young classical musicians train and learn under the best tutelage. The building also features 24 individual rehearsal rooms, 4 ensemble rooms, 3 percussion rooms and a large multi-purpose room filled with the 86 fellows in residence. From outside, the passerby can see the cellist, violinist or pianist perfecting his or her skills.
Wallcast and SoundScape Park
The New World Symphony’s surrounding area, the Miami Beach SoundScape, is just as important as the inside. Sure, the student’s education happens inside, but everyone is invited to a free education in classical music and more in the park surrounding the building.
A 7,000 square foot projection wall broadcasts live feeds of the indoor performances for the public to enjoy at no cost. Bring a blanket and a picnic dinner and enjoy the Miami weather and beach breeze at a free weekly event for the whole family on the WALLCAST. This state-of-the-art screen draws crowds who cozy up on the grass and enjoy orchestral performances, popular films as part of the weekly Miami Beach SoundScape Cinema Series (every Wednesday night) and site-specific art projections. Digital projections are a popular and emerging form in the art world and the WALLCAST has and will continue to be an important site on this form.
The WALLCAST is part of SoundScape Park, the public green area designed by surrounding the building with giant silver hand-fabricated structures and winding paths. The structures are essentially avant-garde plant holders for bright bougainvilleas supported by aluminum strands that wind together to form a strong, sinewy vase.
Thierry’s at New World Symphony
For a meal before concerts or a bite during intermission, visit Thierry’s at the New World Center, a restaurant by celebrity chef-caterer Thierry Isambert. Located on the first level of the Atrium, Isambert executes dishes inspired by traditional French cooking techniques with a blend of Mediterranean, Caribbean and Pacific influences.
Thierry’s serves special boxed meals for the WALLCAST Concert’s concessions. For $80 you’ll get a choice of a roasted turkey sandwich on a brioche or a caprese sandwich on a soft baguette with crisp golden dirty potato chips with a large chocolate chunk chip cookie.
Throughout the year there’s a busy calendar of exciting events for patrons, friends of the Symphony and families. Don your best black tie for the annual gala, bring the family for fun, music and learning or stop by late-night for an after-hours concert.
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