BEST SYMPHONIC ORCHESTRA - 2004
New World Symphony
Ostensibly a "training" orchestra, an opportunity for its young members to hone their postconservatory chops before moving on to "proper" outfits, the NWS outdoes its mandate as audiences regularly pack performances at Miami Beach's Lincoln Theatre. These music lovers will attest to this group's ability to outshine more venerable orchestras coast-to-coast. Whether it's the passion of youth, the hunger of musicians with something to prove, or the guiding energy of music director Michael Tilson Thomas, NWS attacks compositions with a verve that brings newfound glory to the symphony sound. Better yet, Thomas's musical selections rarely hew to the tried and true classical suspects -- this isn't your father's symphonic orchestra. Yes, expect to hear Bach, Brahms, and Mozart. But also prepare for riveting avant-garde composers such as John Adams, Luciano Berio, and Steve Reich. Losing the Florida Philharmonic may have been a blow for classical enthusiasts, but as long as the NWS continues to raise the roof, there's no need to feel the pain.