New World Symphony
America's Orchestral Academy
The New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy (NWS), prepares graduates of
distinguished music programs for leadership roles in professional orchestras and ensembles.
In the 27 years since its co-founding by Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas and Lin
and Ted Arison, NWS has helped launch the careers of more than 950 alumni worldwide.
A laboratory for the way music is taught, presented, and experienced, the New World
Symphony consists of 87 young musicians who are granted fellowships that last up to three
years. The fellowship program offers in-depth exposure to traditional and modern
repertoire, professional development training, and personalized experiences working with
leading guest conductors, soloists, and visiting faculty. Relationships with these artists
are extended through NWS's extensive distance learning via the internet.
NWS Fellows take advantage of the innovative performance facilities and state-of-the art
practice and ensemble rooms of the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, the campus of the
New World Symphony.
In the hopes of joining NWS, more than 1,500 recent music school and conservatory
graduates compete for about 35 available fellowships each year. The Fellows are selected
for this highly competitive, prestigious opportunity based on their ability and their
passion for the future of classical music.
Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas is co-founder and artistic director of the New World Symphony,
America's Orchestral Academy, where he continues his role as educator in mentoring the next
generation of classical musicians. He is also music director of the San Francisco Symphony
and principal guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and maintains an active
presence guest conducting with the major orchestras of Europe and the United States.
Mr. Tilson Thomas began his formal studies at the University of Southern California, where
he studied piano with John Crown and conducting and composition with Ingolf Dahl. At age
19, he was named music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. He
worked with Stravinsky, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Copland on premieres of their compositions
at Los Angeles's Monday Evening Concerts. During this same period, he was the pianist and
conductor for Gregor Piatigorsky and Jascha Heifetz.
In 1969, Mr. Tilson Thomas won the Koussevitzky Prize and was appointed assistant
conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He went on to become the BSO's associate
conductor and then principal guest conductor, where he remained until 1974.
Mr. Tilson Thomas's extensive television work includes a series with the London Symphony
Orchestra for BBC Television, the television broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic's
Young People's Concerts from 1971 to 1977, and numerous productions on PBS's Great
Performances. In 2004, Mr. Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony embarked on a
multi-tiered media project--Keeping Score--which includes television, websites,
radio, and educational programs designed to make classical music more accessible to a new
Among his many honors and awards, Mr. Tilson Thomas is a Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts
et des Lettres of France, was Musical America's Musician of the Year and Conductor
of the Year, was Gramophone magazine's Artist of the Year, and has been profiled
on CBS's 60 Minutes and ABC's Nightline. He has won 11 Grammy Awards for
his recordings. In 2008, he received the Peabody Award for his radio series for SFS Media,
The MTT Files. In 2010, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in a ceremony at
the White House.