Musical chairs: Atlanta raids the New World Symphony

Musical chairs: Atlanta raids the New World Symphony


norman lebrecht

September 20, 2017

from the ASO press release:

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra welcomes seven new musicians for the 2017-18 season: Julianne Lee, Principal Second Violin; Madeline Sharp, viola; Anthony Georgeson, Associate Principal Bassoon; Sissi Yuqing Zhang, violin; Joseph Petrasek, Principal Percussion; Michael Stubbart, percussion; Thomas Carpenter, cello.

Julianne Lee joins from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where she served as the Assistant Principal Second Violin.

Madeline Sharp and Thomas Carpenter were previously members of the New World Symphony.

Principal bassoonist of the Florida Orchestra, 2007-17, Anthony Georgeson has also been a member of the New World Symphony.

Michael Stubbart was Acting Principal Percussion with the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra in Honolulu.

Joseph Petrasek most recently served as Associate Principal Percussionist of the Kansas City Symphony for eight seasons, and as a percussion fellow in the New World Symphony.

Sissi Yuqing Zhang is a founding member of the Hsin Trio.



  • Observer says:

    The New World Symphony is one of the very few orchestras in the world which actually enjoys being “raided”: its mission is to educate and prepare young musicians for the real life of professional orchestras. They encourage their current members to take as many auditions as possible. Every appointment of one of their alumni is a testament to the exceptional quality of this organization and the vision of its founder, Michael Tilson Thomas.

    What just happened in Atlanta is not unique: Kansas City Symphony, among other orchestras, also has a very high number of NWS alumni on their roster – to the point that many people call it “New World Symphony West”. The amazing quality of the Kansas City Symphony (one of the most underrated orchestras in the country in my opinion) and the high level of commitment of its young musicians says a lot about how well the New World Symphony serves its purpose by supplying a new generation of gifted and well-prepared young musicians for the great orchestras of the world and in particular in the US.

    • pme says:

      “Raid” is really a poor choice of words. The points above about the training ground nature of the NWS are spot on, and congrats to those who won the auditions.

      “Raid” implies that the ASO came in, against the NWS’ will and absconded with selected players. In reality, the players answered calls for auditions and won. 4 of the 7 happened to be either NWS fellows or alumni.

      Why not celebrate the musicians’ accomplishments and the success of the NWS’ mission with a headline that says something like “NWS fellows and alumni win positions in ASO” rather than something that implies that the ASO were a band of marauding pirates?

      • MacroV says:

        “Raid” is also a poor choice of words, because Atlanta didn’t go out and recruit any of these people; they all (I assume) showed up for an open audition. But coming from the New World Symphony is no different than coming from Curtis.

    • KL says:

      As a former season subscriber to the Kansas City Symphony and a current subscriber to New World, I can second everything Observer says above.

      Cannot recommend both groups enough!

  • Juice Cransberry says:

    Don’t forget Daniel “Johnson” Tosky (bassist).

  • NYMike says:

    And some New World SO members have gone on to the San Francisco SO, too.

  • William Osborne says:

    The irony being that Miami with a metro population of 5.5 million (equal to the entire country of Finland,) and enormous wealth, does not have a full time professional symphony orchestra…

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    Interesting fact is that, when the associate principal trombone of the New York Phil plays principal this year, then principal trumpet, horn, and trombone will all be ex- Atlanta Symphony players.

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    Curtis is a school, and the New World Symphony is a post-school training orchestra, masquerading as a professional orchestra, so there is no comparison. I am sick and tired of graduates of Curtis thinking they know everything, can learn nothing more, and that their training is finished.
    They all have more to learn, to experience, and can be further polished and deepened by great teachers. And how many great teachers are on staff at Curtis? Some, but not all. And how artistic is the environment at Curtis, how nurturing? Not at all like it used to be. The changes there warrant investigation.