New Century Chamber Orchestra Announces Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg Named New Music Director

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra and its President Paula Gambs, on behalf of the Board of Directors, proudly announce that Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg has been named Music Director, starting with the 2008-2009 season, with a three year contract.  As the New Century Chamber Orchestra enters its 17th season (it was founded in 1992), Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg will lead four sets of subscription concerts each season.  The 17-member string orchestra is made up of an international group of top chamber musicians.

Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg remarked, "Energy, excitement, excellence, and the pure joy of performance - this has been my experience with the New Century Chamber Orchestra.  I am thrilled to be the new Music Director and eagerly anticipate the journey to firmly establish the NCCO among the finest chamber ensembles in the world."

“We are truly excited to have such a brilliant violinist and natural leader as our new Music Director,” commented Paula Gambs.  “Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s passion and intensity have captured the hearts of everyone at the New Century Chamber Orchestra.  We look forward to an exciting future with Nadja, full of fantastic music and wonderful surprises.”

A musician, author, and teacher, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg is recognized as one of the world's preeminent violinists performing today. Since 1981, when she burst onto the music scene as the youngest recipient ever of the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg has remained in the spotlight, touring internationally, as well as making numerous television appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, 60 Minutes, and Sesame Street, among others .   

Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg is the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize (1999) awarded to instrumentalists who have demonstrated “outstanding achievement and excellence in music,” and was honored with an Avery Fisher Career Grant (1983).  She also has an Oscar nomination to her name for her documentary film Speaking in Strings.  

In the 2007-08 season, the internationally acclaimed violin soloist tours the West Coast with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and performs with the New Jersey, Houston, Oregon, York, Baltimore and Colorado Symphony Orchestras. Highlights this season also include recitals with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott and a Louisiana Residency. During her first ever residency, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg performs with the Louisiana Philharmonic in New Orleans and with the Baton Rouge Symphony
Orchestra, presents master classes, performs a recital with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, and makes numerous “in-school” appearances which, in addition to the performance aspect, focus on interacting with the students.

In 2005, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg created her own record label, NSS Music (, which focuses on recordings of new and established works by musicians across musical genres, with a special emphasis on live performances.  Prior to launching NSS Music, she had made more than 20 classical and crossover recordings with the Angel/EMI Classics and Nonesuch labels.  Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg’s collaborators include such artists as Mandy Patinkin, Joe Jackson, Judy Blazer, Janice Siegel, the Assad brothers, Mark O'Connor and Roger Kellaway.

More About Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Now based in New York City, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg ( was born in Rome and emigrated 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.

A powerful and innovative presence on the recording scene, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg continues to enrich the collection of her record label NSS Music. The label already features Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg’s “Merry” (a compilation of Christmas favorites, performed by Nadja and friends), “Nadja” (Tchaikovsky and Assad, Violin concertos), “Live” (Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Anne-Marie McDermott), as well as Anne-Marie McDermott’s “Bach”, and John Cerminaro’s “John Cerminaro, A Life of Music.” Coming this year will be NSS Music’s first jazz album, entitled “Love, All That It Is,” featuring The Clarice Assad Trio.  An ever-evolving creative project, NSS Music will continue to bring forth unique performances from many musical genres.

Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg’s exceptional artistry is paired with a great musical intelligence, which along with her unique sense of humor have served her well in numerous environments—on  camera, in a commercial for Signet Bank, hosting a Backstage/Live from Lincoln Center program for PBS, appearing in the PBS/BBC series The Mind, even talking to Big Bird on Sesame Street.  She was the subject of the 2000 Academy Award-nominated film, Speaking In Strings, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Released in theaters nationwide and subsequently premiered on HBO’s Signatures channel in 1999, this intensely personal documentary on her life is available on VHS and DVD through New Video.  The CD of music from the film was released in 1999 by Angel/EMI.  Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg has also appeared on ABC’s prime time comedy Dharma & Greg in 2001, and she has been interviewed and profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes, 60 Minutes II, and Sunday Morning; CNN’s Newsstand; NBC's National News and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; A & E's Artist of the Week with Elliot Forrest; Bravo's Arts & Minds and The Art of Influence; PBS' Live from Lincoln Center, The Charlie Rose Show, and City Arts.  On the publishing front, Nadja: On My Way, her autobiography written for children discussing her experiences as a young musician building a career, was published by Crown Books in 1989.

About the Music Director Search
The New Century Chamber Orchestra formed a Search Committee made up of members of the Board of Directors, Orchestra, and community representatives.  The Search Committee, led by Co-Chairs Norm Katz and René Mandel, met at least once every month and spent two years contacting more than 100 violinists from all over the nation.  Frontrunners joined the orchestra during the 15th and 16th seasons as guest concertmasters, programming their concerts and leading rehearsals.
About the New Century Chamber Orchestra
The New Century Chamber Orchestra (, founded in 1992, is a group of outstanding chamber musicians from around the world who look for fresh, exciting new ways to present classical music in the San Francisco Bay Area by combining performances of extraordinary quality with innovative programming. The Music Director chooses the programs and guides the artistic vision, but the seventeen members of the orchestra perform without a conductor. Musical decisions are made collaboratively, resulting in an enhanced level of commitment on the part of the musicians to concerts of remarkable precision, passion and power.

Stuart Canin was the group’s first Music Director, from 1992 until 1999.  Mr. Canin is currently the Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Opera and former Concertmaster of both the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.  Mr. Canin will return to the NCCO in April 2008 to lead a program of Shostakovich, Mendelssohn, and Mozart.  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.  

As part of its dedication to the future of music and to the community, the NCCO provides violin lessons to underserved students in Marin City and San Rafael’s Canal District, as well as intimate classroom performances by string quartets to students in Bay Area elementary schools.  

The orchestra has released four compact discs, one of which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997.