It has been an adventure to have been involved in Musica Nova's non-profit corporation since the idea began. As a lover of great classical music all of my adult life, I never knew of most of the great works the orchestra has performed during the past 10 years thanks to Music Director Cohen's innovative programming.... unknown or forgotten music from the distant past, brand new music by unknown composers, and Entartete Musik from World War Two era German composers. Anyone wanting excitement can find it at a Musica Nova performance. Go to www.musicanovaaz.com to find out what we mean.
I performed at the first regular season concert of Musica Nova, 11 years ago. At that concert, we had the privilege of performing the Arizona premiere of Korngold's "Das wunder der Heliane". Since its inception, Musica Nova has premiered approximately 30 other works. Warren Cohen, the conductor, is at heart an educator; he speaks before every concert, engaging the audience in the performance by highlighting interesting aspects of the piece. Both members of the audience and members of the orchestra feel they have learned something new and exciting by the end of each concert. Musica Nova is a huge asset to the musical scene in Arizona, offering a contrast to standard offerings of the other groups. I'm delighted to be back with Musica Nova for the holiday concert, where you will hear the perfect combination of beauty, joy and fun!
With limited resources, MusicaNova is able to bring some of the finest music and artists to the Valley of the Sun. This week's concert featuring phenomenally talented pianist Jessica Zhang was just the latest example.
I have been enjoying the offerings of MusicaNova Orchestra for several years now and am in awe of how each program taps into the energy and creative magnetism of new composers and musicians while bringing forward extensions of obscure, yet beautifully insightful delicacies of dreams and dreamers. For example, on Sunday evening, October 27th, Conductor Warren Cohen led members of the MusicaNova Orchestra as they performed a remarkable early work of 'The Black Mahler,' Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. His Nonet in F Minor, Op. 2 is so musically intricate that one cannot help but be enriched by it's journey into their heart. The performance was only the second time his Nonet has been heard in the United States. Members of the orchestra also served up Onslow's 'Theme and Variations' from the Nonet in A Minor, Op. 77. A special highlight of the evening extended the theme of the program 'Youthful Variations,' as the award winning 10-year-old, Jessica Zhang, delivered a truly mesmerizing performance of the first movement of Mozart Piano Concerto no. 2. At one point, I literally closed my eyes and let the music surround me and take me away. Thank you for a beautiful night of music, MusicaNova Orchestra, and 'Congratulations' on the start of your 11th season.
About a year ago I had the rare opportunity to attend a Master Class provided by MusicaNova offered by then 87 year old piano legend Ruth Slenczynska. She had performed the previous evening with the MusicaNova Orchestra to a sold out and wildly enthusiastic audience. It was a rare and wonderful experience to see her guide, cajole and drive talented young pianists to their highest levels of personal achievement. I was so impressed I started regularly attending MusicaNova performances and am happy to say I’ve never been disappointed.
Through MusicaNova I’ve been exposed to the most magnificent performances including the legendary Ruth Slenczynska, eleven-year-old violin prodigy Elli Choi, and the exuberant talent of local teen piano virtuosi; Anna Han and Joey Chang. I am in awe of the talent this orchestra attracts, and the Board of Directors who work tirelessly to provide the Phoenix Metro area with these innovative and exhilarating musical experiences.
Under the leadership of the Founder and Musical Director; Warren Cohen, and the tireless work of the Board members and volunteers, there is always something new and exciting being served up by MusicaNova.
MusicaNova is currently celebrating its Ten Year Anniversary, it is going strong but, like most non-profits, it needs the public’s support to ‘keep the show on the road’; and a wonderful show it is indeed. I would like to invite everyone who delights in the thrill of exquisitely performed classical music to lend a hand to keep this local orchestra alive and thriving.
Please attend a concert, send in a donation, or volunteer your time, talent and energies to help MusicaNova bring great music to everyone of every age. Our city and our state deserves the very best, and MusicaNova provides just that.
- JoAnn Richi
Review from Guidestar
MusicaNova Orchestra is an exciting classical symphony orchestra located in Phoenix, Arizona. Whenever I have participated with the orchestra, either as a pianist or as a board member, I have learned something new about music from our wonderful conductor, Warren Cohen. The programming is innovative, fascinating and often contains regional, national and even world premieres. The organization is beginning its eleventh year, and the first decade has been truly exciting. I love my involvement with MusicaNova!
I learned of Musica Nova Orchestra from a friend who played with the group. I attended a concert and was very impressed. She thought that I might be of service due to my grant writing experience and introduced me to Warren Cohen, the music director. Since that time, some 5 or more years ago, I have continued to attend concerts, write grants for the organization, and tell others that they really must hear this group. As a person with two degrees in music, I appreciate the breath, depth, and variety of music I have heard over this time. I want something new, something that I can say that I heard live that is rarely or never recorded. The challenge for me is in explaining to others how much this organization deserves to be recognized as a leader in our community.
In March of 2003, I was conducting a Youth Orchestra in Scottsdale, and I was talking to one of the parents of the kids in the orchestra. I was telling Bill Stanley how sad it was that professional orchestras seemed to limit their choice of repertoire to the tried and true and that so much great music was unheard. The following week he came to rehearsal and said " you know that adventurous orchestra you imagined? I have some time on my hands right now. I know how to start a non-profit corporation and get things going. I could make that happen if you can handle the artistic end of it". I called Liz McKinnon, a cellist I knew who also booked players for gigs, called some other people who thought this was a cool vision, pulled together some money, got a venue, and in six weeks we gave our first performance. We got Lyndon Johnson Taylor, then principal second violin of the Los Angeles Philharmonic to play with us. That summer we worked hard, created a board, raised enough money to get through a couple of concerts, created a brochure, auditioned and booked an orchestra, and in November we gave our first official concert- a program of music suppressed by the Nazi Regime. Eleven years later we are still here, giving the community our unique vision of the repertoire. I feel proud that we are different from other groups. that we do have a unique, educational vision and that the orchestra has not only maintained a professional standard, but has become better with each passing year. This year we move to the newly vibrant Phoenix Arts District. a place that suits our mission and vision.
MusicaNova orchestra not only enriches the community through masterful performances of new and traditional orchestra works, but contributes to the growth of the community through the showcasing of young gifted artists. The conductor, Warren Cohen does not limit his role strictly to leader of the orchestra, but adds an educational dimension to each concert with his colorful story telling prior to the beginning of each piece.
Review from Guidestar
As personnel manager of MusicaNova Orchestra since its beginning, I've had the opportunity to work with Warren Cohen --- an extraordinary director and musician whose vision of the orchestra not only adds to the local music scene but to the international one as well. MusicaNova delivers high quality live concerts of new or lesser known or suppressed music as well as superb works not often performed by wel-known composers. MusicaNova also promotes and encourages young future star musicians to solo with the orchestra and to visit local schools to give demonstrations and master classes. Additionally, we're partnering with other arts organizations. This promotes and gives MusicaNova the opportunity to expand and band together with others in the performing arts community.
It continues to be my pleasure to work with MusicNova -----Warren, the orchestra, and the MusicaNova board ---to help make these unique performances continue.
MusicaNova Orchestra is an extraordinary group of musicians, led by the genius of Maestro Warren Cohen. It is an honor to have served on their board since their founding.