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New Century Chamber Orchestra

New Century Chamber Orchestra
Short name NCCO
Founded 1992 (1992)
Principal conductor Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Website .org.nccowww

The New Century Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1992 by cellist, Miriam Perkoff, and violist, Wieslaw Pogorzelski. The goal of the founders was to present classical music in a fresh and unique way in the San Francisco Bay Area. The music director chooses the programs and guides the artistic vision, but the seventeen members of the orchestra perform as part of a conductorless orchestra. Musical decisions are made collaboratively, in the hope of enhancing the level of commitment on the part of the musicians and increasing the precision, passion and power of their playing.

In addition to performing classic pieces of chamber orchestra repertoire, New Century commissions new works, revives neglected works from the past, and brings pieces from other genres such as jazz and rock into the chamber orchestra setting. New Century's mission is to bring outstanding chamber orchestra performances to Bay Area communities. They perform in intimate venues with excellent acoustics, great sightlines and welcoming atmospheres in four cities: Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Rafael.


  • Former Music Directors 1
  • Current Music Director 2
  • Recordings 3
  • Touring 4
  • Highlights 5
  • Educational programs 6
  • Orchestra members 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Former Music Directors

Stuart Canin served as New Century's first Music Director from 1992 to 1999. A former Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera, Canin currently serves as Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Opera under Music Director James Conlon and General Director Plácido Domingo. He also served as Concertmaster of the New Japan Philharmonic in the 1990s, performing and touring under Seiji Ozawa and Mstislav Rostropovich. Mr. Canin was born in New York City and studied at Juilliard, where his principal teacher was Ivan Galamian. Mr. Canin won the International Paganini Competition in Genoa and the Handel Medal from the city of New York. He served as Concertmaster in Hollywood for studio orchestras, performing on such films as Schindler's List, Titanic and Forrest Gump. Mr. Canin was scheduled return to the NCCO in April 2008 to lead a program of Shostakovich, Mendelssohn, and Mozart.

A native of Menlo Park, California, Krista Bennion Feeney served as New Century's Music Director and Concertmaster from 1999 to 2006. She is currently Concertmaster of the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center during the summer and Co-Concertmaster of the Orchestra of St. Luke's year-round at Carnegie Hall and throughout the summer at the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, New York. Ms. Feeney has performed as a soloist with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the St. Louis Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the New York String Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Brandenburg Ensemble and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, among others. As a member of the Loma Mar quartet, she recorded new quartet compositions by Paul McCartney for his 1999 CD entitled Working Classical (EMI Records). She was a student of Isadore Tinkelman and Stuart Canin's at the San Francisco Conservatory, and later studied with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimer at the Curtis Institute of Music.

Current Music Director

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg's professional career began in 1981 when she won the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. In 1983 she was recognized with an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and in 1999, she was honored with the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was born in Rome and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight to study at The Curtis Institute of Music. She later studied with Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School.


The Orchestra has released six compact discs, including LIVE: Barber, Strauss, Mahler, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s second recording with the Orchestra as Music Director. The new disc was released November 2010 on NSS Music, and features live recordings from the Orchestra’s 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. Other recordings include a 1996 collaborative project with Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra featuring the work of 20th-century Swiss composer Frank Martin, and Written With the Heart’s Blood, a 1997 Grammy Award finalist featuring works by Dimitri Shostakovich, both on the New Albion label. A year later, the Orchestra recorded and released Echoes of Argentina, featuring works of Argentine composers Alberto Williams and Alberto Ginastera on the d’Note label. In 2004, the Orchestra recorded and released Oculus, a CD of Kurt Rohde’s compositions on the Mondovibe label. In 2009, the Orchestra recorded and released Together featuring works by Astor Piazzolla and 2008-2009 Featured Composer Clarice Assad on the NSS Music label. All of the recordings have been distributed both internationally and in the United States.


In February 2011, New Century travelled to Santa Rosa, Cleveland, Granville, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Davis. Earlier tours took the Orchestra to Tucson, San Bernardino, Phoenix, Orange County, Redding, Portland, New Orleans, Arcata and Santa Barbara.


In December 1996, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade performed at the group's season opening with a new piece by composer Jake Heggie, entitled On the Road to Christmas, written specifically for von Stade.

In 2000, New Century performed in a multimedia multi-ethnic collaboration with Chinese composer Gang Situ entitled Strings Calligraphy. The composition examines the parallels between string music and calligraphy, the control of the erhu bow and calligraphy paintbrush and musical renderings and the flow of calligraphy on paper. The uses of shape and line—dance, string instruments and visual imagery— were interwoven as elements of the performance. Chinese characters were projected on downstage screens, as dancers on a platform imitated the shape of the characters.

Sir Simon Rattle conducted the New Century Chamber Orchestra's 10th Anniversary Celebration concert in June 2002 in a co-presentation with Marin Academy. He led the orchestra in music by Elgar, Schoenberg and Mozart. This was only the second time that Rattle had conducted in the Bay Area since 1980.

In January 2008, the New Century Chamber Orchestra performed REWIND at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a sold out special event conceived of and conducted by Paul Haas. The concert traced music backwards in time from the 20th century to the Baroque and featured violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, DJ Mason Bates, and kinetic installation artist Reuben Heyday Margolin.

Educational programs

New Century is committed to being a vital part of the community and to educational outreach in the communities where it performs. The orchestra provides musical education to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students in an intensive program at schools in Marin City and San Rafael’s Canal District. In addition to several annual classroom visits by a string quartet, selected students are offered free instrumental music instruction with a goal of having the students on as close of an educational equivalency as possible with their suburban peers.

Orchestra members

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Music Director


  • Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, concert master
  • Dawn Harms, associate concert master
  • Candace Guirao, principal second
  • Robin Mayforth
  • Anna Presler
  • Karen Shinozaki Sor
  • Iris Stone
  • Deborah Tien Price
  • Michael Yokas
  • Liza Zurlinden


  • Anna Kruger, principal
  • Cassandra Lynne Richburg
  • Kurt Rohde
  • Jenny Douglass


  • Susan Babini, principal
  • Joanne Lin
  • Robin Bonnell
  • Michelle Djokic


  • Anthony Manzo, principal



External links

  • New Century Chamber Orchestra Official Site
  • NCCO Discography
  • Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg Official Site
  • NSS Music
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