New Century Chamber Orchestra (San Francisco) – Branding/Messaging

The mission of the New Century Chamber Orchestra is to be a virtuoso, conductorless ensemble that creates – through performance, education, and accessibility – a personal connection that conveys the passion and joy of the music directly to its listeners.

The New Century Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1992, looks for fresh, exciting ways to present classical music in the San Francisco Bay Area by combining performances of extraordinary quality with innovative programming. One of only a handful of conductorless ensembles in the world, New Century is comprised of local musicians and those who travel from across the U.S. and Europe to perform in the Bay Area together. Musical decisions are made collaboratively by the 19-member string ensemble, resulting in an enhanced level of commitment on the part of the musicians to concerts of remarkable precision, passion and power. World-renowned violin soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was appointed Music Director and Concertmaster in January 2008, bringing with her “a new sense of vitality and determination, as well as an audacious swagger that is an unmistakable fingerprint of its leader” (Gramophone Magazine).

In 2011, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century embarked on the Orchestra’s first two national tours together. The performances in the Midwest, East Coast, and Southern California garnered record-breaking audiences and national critical acclaim. In January and February 2013, New Century followed with a highly-successful eight-state national tour, the largest and most ambitious artistic undertaking in the organization’s history. In addition to touring efforts, New Century’s national footprint has also continued to grow with a rapidly increasing national radio presence. The ensemble has been broadcast a total of 21 times on American Public Media’s Performance Today, with each broadcast heard on 260 radio stations across the country.

As part of its dedication to the future of music, New Century has offered intimate classroom performances and interactive presentations to elementary school students in Marin County for over fifteen years. New Century’s Education Program aims to give students an invaluable introduction to classical music and foster a lifelong love of music and its performance.

New Century musicians are active members of the San Francisco Bay Area community and have made appearances at San Francisco’s City Hall and at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park.

New Century has identified a number of goals to strengthen artistic offerings for our current and prospective audiences. The New Century Chamber Orchestra’s first artistic initiative for the coming year is to continue the organization’s dedication to creation and performance with New Century’s sixth Featured Composer, Michael Daugherty, in the 2013-2014 Season.

In 2008, New Century established a Featured Composer Program, to commission composers to write new works, with the goals of expanding chamber orchestra repertoire and providing audiences with a deeper understanding of today’s living composers. Featured Composers to date include such distinguished American artists as Clarice Assad, William Bolcom, Mark O’Connor, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Lera Auerbach.

New Century also plans to release a new recording in the next year, comprised of Violin Concertos written especially for Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg through the Featured Composer program. New Century’s recordings have national, and often international, distribution through Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s label NSS Music, and are vital to the ensemble’s efforts to increase awareness.

In order to stretch the orchestra artistically and expose the ensemble to new audiences, the organization aims to develop more artistic partnerships with other Bay Area arts organizations. In the 2013-2014 Season, the orchestra will collaborate with the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows, as well as the male a cappella vocal ensemble, Chanticleer.


Project Description:

The New Century Chamber Orchestra’s Music Director, Board of Directors and staff have identified the organization’s main focus for the coming year to be defining the organization’s identity and positioning in ways that are meaningful to a broader base of patrons.
The organization has a reputation for excellence, with consistently rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being disappointing and 10 being excellent, audience survey respondents from September 2010- present rated the concerts an average of 9.3, with 58% of respondents giving a perfect 10. Ticket buyers are extremely loyal, with the subscription base currently at an 81% renewal rate. While these audience survey results show that New Century is successful in its mission to establish a personal connection through intimate, passionate, and joyful concerts, the size of its audiences and the depth of its donor support don’t match the acclaimed organization’s reputation.

New Century recognizes that a strategic branding and messaging framework is needed to increase the number of patrons we reach through the three vehicles defined in the organization’s mission (performance, education, and accessibility).