Photo by Geoff Shiel

Combining the demands of chamber music with the precision of large scale symphonic repertoire, this special artistic exploration (unique to NOI+F) allows students to craft their own interpretation of a symphonic piece. It ignites artistic ownership many have never experienced. “The concert opened a window that helped me find confidence and pride in my playing,” says Shannon Lock, who served as a concertmaster for Benjamin Britten’s Suite on English Folk Tunes,” in NOI+F’s 2018 unconducted concert.

Faculty advisors from various professional ensembles including New York’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra typically kick off the process with an introductory session about artistic decision-making, collaborative communication and even conflict resolution. Based in Carnegie Hall, the Grammy-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performs without a conductor and instead rotates artistic direction for each performance.

This experience plays a crucial role in developing leadership skills needed to professionally excel in every ensemble setting: from a four-player string quartet, to a 12-player orchestral section leader, to a 90-player symphonic concertmaster. Musicians in these settings rely on musical and physical cues to communicate phrasing, tempo and articulation, all of which usually fall on a conductor. 

To participate in the conductorless orchestra, players must learn the score beyond their individual part to successfully create a unified sound. This kind of orchestral experience allows all members of an ensemble, from the concertmaster to the musicians sitting in the last row to be active participants. Why is this program an important part of the National Orchestral Institute curriculum?

“NOI+F's conductorless orchestra showed us that faculty and leadership genuinely trusted our artistic instincts,” shares Lock. “Knowing that these seasoned artistic professionals believed we were fully capable of accomplishing this degree of leadership was inspiring and empowering.”

NOI+F 2021 Conductorless Repertoire: Haydn's Symphony No. 88, Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and Martinu's Oboe Concerto