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About Northwest Sinfonietta

The Artistic Partner Model

Q:  What is the Artistic Partner Model?
A:  The Artistic Partner model is used successfully by some of the top chamber orchestras in the world; including Academy of St. Martin in the Field, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. The two key components of the model are 1) engaging a small group of rotating Artistic Partners; and 2) sharing artistic decision-making with our musicians. Artistic Partners are not just guest conductors – they will be with us for multiple seasons on a rotating basis, and will collaborate with NWS musicians on both programming and artistic quality. We want to provide our audiences with a closer, more personal connection to the music and to the orchestra, so you will have many opportunities to interact with these remarkable artistic partners when they are with us!

Q:  Why did Northwest Sinfonietta change to this artistic model?
A:  We believe this innovative new format is the best way for us to carry on the vision of our co-founders and achieve our goal of becoming one of the country's preeminent chamber orchestras, based right here in the Puget Sound. This model will help us continue to provide the very best intimate music experience for our audiences and enrich the cultural quality of life in our region. The change to our artistic operational model was not undertaken to cut our artistic budget; rather, our goal was to raise our artistic quality to the highest possible levels and deliver brilliant performances and distinct experiences. The decision to adopt an Artistic Partner operational model, and its impact on NWS’ artistic operations, was discussed with our orchestra members and their feedback was strongly in favor of making this change. They are enthusiastic about taking a more direct role in the artistic development of the organization, and collaborating with artists and conductors that would otherwise be unavailable in a traditional, full-time leadership capacity.

Q:  So what happens next?
A:  To begin our journey down this new and exciting path we have engaged extraordinary, world-renowned Artistic Partners for the next two seasons—Eric Jacobsen, David Lockington, and Joseph Swensen. Each Artistic Partner has serious chamber orchestra credentials, having led ensembles such as the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Paris, London Sinfonietta, Israel Chamber Orchestra, The Knights, and Silk Road Project. They will each lead 3 – 4 concert cycles over the next two years. We hope you will accept this sincere invitation to join us, and become part of this exciting new direction next season by subscribing to our concerts. You'll be able to see for yourself what the excitement is about, hear how this new approach will elevate your experience in the music hall, and be part of the audience that plays an important role in the continued success of the orchestra. We look forward to seeing you there!

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About Northwest Sinfonietta

“What is a chamber orchestra?” is one of the questions we get asked the most, and we have an easy answer! A chamber orchestra is a smaller orchestral ensemble of 30 – 40 musicians, playing an overlapping repertoire with a symphony orchestra (which is typically 70 – 80 musicians). The genius of the chamber sizing is that you experience music in a much closer fashion – while symphonic orchestras can produce an impressive “wall of sound,” a chamber orchestra allows you to hear each musical line and phrase with greater intent and transparency. The result? You get to enjoy both the power of live classical music and the intimacy of a smaller ensemble.

One of the common complaints about classical music concerts is that they can be rigid, formal and often uninvolving. How do you combat that? In 1991, co-founders Christophe Chagnard and Kathryn Habedank decided to take up that challenge. Almost twenty-five years later, we’ve gathered 35 of the finest musicians from the Puget Sound region, built a nationally acclaimed chamber orchestra of the highest caliber, and now perform a regular season of five to six concerts annually. Northwest Sinfonietta (NWS) is a vital part of the Pacific Northwest cultural scene and widely recognized for its extraordinary performances, innovative programming, and unique collaborations. Since its founding NWS has held a unique position as the region’s only professional chamber orchestra, and is the only Washington orchestra to regularly perform in multiple cities of residence: Seattle, Tacoma, and Puyallup.

In 2012 and 2013, NWS was only the third American orchestra to tour and perform in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, prompting Governor Christine Gregoire to proclaim Northwest Sinfonietta as “Washington State’s international cultural ambassador.” In 2014, we became the fifth professional chamber orchestra in the world to adopt the Artistic Partner leadership model.  Our 2015-16 season celebrated the 25th anniversary for the orchestra, as well as the Governor's Arts Award as an outstanding organization in Washington State.  The Sinfonietta's 2016-17 season builds on its history of excellence, with three stellar Artistic Partners, world-class soloists, and exciting collaborations with other arts organizations throughout the Puget Sound region. 

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