National Orchestral Institute + Festival Releases Sixth Naxos Label Album

JoAnn Falletta leads the NOI Philharmonic in timeless mid-20th-century works and never-recorded concerti


JoAnn Falletta leads the NOI Philharmonic on June 18, 2022 as part of this recording project. Photo by David Andrews.


The National Orchestral Institute + Festival (NOI+F), a program of the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, has released its sixth album of American music as part of their ongoing, nationally unique partnership with Naxos Records. Multi-Grammy winning conductor JoAnn Falletta, a frequent guest conductor at NOI+F,  leads the NOI Philharmonic on this disc. The recording features Aaron Copland's “The Tender Land” suite, Walter Piston's “The Incredible Flutist” suite and two world premiere recordings—Paul Creston's Saxophone Concerto with saxophonist Timothy McAllister and Ulysses Kay's “Pietà” with Anna Mattix on English horn.

“NOI+F’s commitment to elevating American compositional voices shines through in this stellar album,” said Richard Scerbo, NOI+F director. “Collaborating with such extraordinary musicians and world-class soloists has created profound interpretations sure to delight audiences around the world.”

One of the nation’s leading orchestral training programs, NOI+F prepares aspiring orchestral musicians, composers, conductors and arts administrators from across the United States in a month of dynamic music-making and professional exploration. An integral program of The Clarice, a vibrant arts organization dedicated to cultivating creativity and presenting exceptional artists and inspiring performances, NOI+F selects musicians using a rigorous, cross-country audition process. These young musicians present exhilarating performances both at The Clarice and in the College Park, Maryland community, working with different conductors in dynamic repertoire on a weekly basis. Conducting luminary Marin Alsop has served as the festival’s music director since 2020.

NOI+F’s extensive partnerships around the country create unique artistic experiences aimed at shaping the 21st-century musician. The festival established a multi-year partnership with Naxos Records in 2015 to produce albums of American music. Through this recording partnership, the ensemble has released five projects, collaborating with renowned conductors David Alan Miller, James Ross and James Judd. In 2019, the NOI Philharmonic received a Grammy nomination in the “Best Orchestral Performance” category for their 2017 disc “Ruggles, Stucky, Harbison.”  NOI+F performances have been heard by millions of listeners with frequent broadcasts on programs including Your Classical’s Performance Today, WETA’s Front Row Washington and  WQXR’s Young Artist Showcase.


Celebrated saxophonist Timothy McAllister performs Paul Creston's Saxophone Concerto with the NOI Philharmonic on June 18, 2022. Photo by David Andrews.

As Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, JoAnn Falletta became a trailblazer for women conductors around the world. Recently named as one of the 50 great conductors of all time by Gramophone Magazine, she is hailed for her work as a conductor, recording artist, audience builder and champion of American composers. Boasting a discography of more than 125 titles, this month Falletta received a 2024 Grammy nomination in the category of "Best Orchestral Performance" for her recording "Alexander Scriabin: Poem of Ecstasy and Symphony No. 2" with the Buffalo Philharmonic. She studied with such formidable mentors as Leonard Bernstein and is a devout advocate for young professionals and women conductors. Ahead of this recording with the NOI Philharmonic, Falletta was in residence at The Clarice in June 2022—rehearsing NOI+F students and collaborating with the album’s soloists. The ensemble presented a live performance at The Clarice’s Elsie & Marvin Dekelbum Concert Hall on June 18, 2022.

“The Tender Land” suite, Aaron Copland's perennial tribute to life in the American countryside, opens the album. Celebrated classical saxophonist Timothy McAllister, hailed as "a virtuoso" by The New York Times, plays the alto saxophone in Paul Creston's thrilling Saxophone Concerto performed in its original orchestration. Anna Mattix, who rediscovered Ulysses Kay’s rarely performed “Pietà,” plays the contemplative work for English horn and strings. “Pietà” is inspired by Michaelangelo’s marble statue housed in the Vatican, which the composer visited before writing the piece. Walter Piston's beguiling “Incredible Flutist” suite, rounding up the album, depicts a healer who cures the sorrows of the world with his music.

"The composers on this disc created the voice of our country and shaped our musical destiny,” says JoAnn Falletta. “I’m thrilled to present this recording with these brilliant soloists and the consummate young performers of the NOI Philharmonic."