If you stroll down Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach you pass by eclectic boutiques and art deco buildings, one after the other. In the evening, the aroma of grilled fish wafts from local restaurants. And this time of year, you can feel the warmth of heat lamps fired up for tourists who insist on sitting outside on a relatively chilly January night.
But now, those wandering on Lincoln Road will also be captivated by a new, luminous glow just behind Lincoln Theater. It's the New World Center, boasting a $160 million concert space, designed by architect, Frank Gehry. On Wednesday night, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and his New World Symphony broke in the new hall with their first full concert in their new high-tech home.
The New World Center (a campus, really) is more than just an extraordinary concert hall. Wired with Internet2 (a new kind of internet connecting educational institutions) and equipped with a 7,000-square-foot outdoor projection wall for audiences in the adjoining park, it's designed to make the experience of going to a classical music concert interactive in many ways.
During the opening performance some symphony members were spread throughout the audience on various platforms for a special world premiere of a new piece by Thomas Ades titled Polaris. At the same time, artist and filmmaker Tal Rosner's new video was projected on five curving sail-like forms that are part of the hall's acoustic design.
Along side the world premiere, Tilson Thomas placed the overture to Wagner's Flying Dutchman and the Symphony No. 3 (containing the familiar "Fanfare") by Aaron Copland.
The New World Symphony is made up of immensely talented 20-something musicians, fresh from top music schools around the country. It's more than just an orchestra it's also America's only orchestral academy, founded by conductor Tilson Thomas in 1987. Here the best of the best young players spend up to three years getting ready to make the leap to professional orchestras and ensembles. To date, more than 600 alumni of the New World Symphony now play in top orchestras all around the world.
For more than a decade, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas has been dreaming about a new home — a building made especially for the New World Symphony — and Wednesday night we joined him to hear how that dream came true.