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Special Reports

MA 30 The Innovators: Richard Scerbo

December 6, 2016 | By John Fleming

Director, National Orchestral Institute + Festival

Richard Scerbo worked in various capacities with the National Orchestral Institute + Festival for more than a decade before being appointed director last year. Founded in 1988, NOI+F offers intensive study for orchestral musicians on the threshold of professional careers. Alumni have positions in virtually every major U.S. orchestra, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, and the Boston
Symphony Orchestra.

“Our work is to be responsive to the changing demands being placed on orchestral musicians today,” Scerbo says. “The next generation of orchestral musicians not only needs to be master artists but knowledgeable entrepreneurs and advocates for their art.”

NOI+F is based at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park. Conductors at the month-long institute and festival last summer included Teddy Abrams (Mahler’s Symphony No. 1) and Osmo Vänskä (Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2). One of Scerbo’s innovations is the SPARK! lobby lounge, where musicians and audience members can connect before and after concerts.

In July, the festival orchestra had a CD released by Naxos, the first in a multiyear partnership. From a program of American music conducted by David Alan Miller, it features John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, Michael Torke’s Bright Blue Music, and Copland’s Appalachian Spring. “Our musicians walk away from this experience with a professional recording credit,” Scerbo says. “For launching their careers, it’s a really nice step.”

In another innovation, Scerbo created the Orchestral Futurist Fellowship in collaboration with the Sphinx Organization. Each fellow is involved with operations of the institute and festival, combining skills in orchestral performance, administration, programming, and community engagement.

Scerbo, a bassoonist and conductor, also is founding artistic director of the Inscape Chamber Orchestra.


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