A New Instrumental Performance Course Trains the Next Generation of Broadway Musicians

NYU today announced the first-ever NYU Broadway Orchestra, a new ensemble within NYU Steinhardt’s Music and Performing Arts Professions department designed to train the next generation of Broadway musicians for a career in the world’s best stage productions and pit orchestras, launching in fall 2018.

The course is among the first of its kind in the world and gives students the opportunity to learn the industry-specific skills required to land a role on the theater strip. Budding musicians will learn recording skills, sight reading (using past Broadway books), chamber and ensemble performance, Broadway-specific music technology (including ‘click tracks’ used to synchronize music to live performance), theater history, and the business of Broadway from seasoned industry professionals.

Ted Sperling—Music Director for the current Tony Award-nominated production of My Fair Lady with a theater career spanning thirty years—will serve as the Broadway Orchestra’s music director. John Miller—bass player and music coordinator for more than 130 Broadway shows—will fulfill the orchestra’s artistic advisor role, coinciding with his most recent work as the musical coordinator for Once on this Island, the 2018 Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Musical, and The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway.

“The NYU Broadway Orchestra will be invaluable to students and a powerful start to their careers. This practical, hands on experience shows the realities of working in musical theater and will be a wonderful resource for students, regardless of where they end up playing professionally. I’m honored to be offered this opportunity to work with professionals I admire and respect at NYU and share my experiences with aspiring musicians,” said Miller.

Miller and Sperling will mentor students by conducting the orchestra, leading workshops and discussions—including career-focused roundtable discussions with theater professionals discussing how to land a coveted position in musical theater—and coaching and performing with students inside the pit.

Students will also have the opportunity to perform and study theater repertoire from nineteenth-century operettas to contemporary rock and pop shows and will learn the books to multiple shows including Ragtime, City of Angels, and Hairspray. Miller and Sperling worked on the original Broadway productions for multiple shows included in the curriculum.

“With outstanding industry connections, world-renowned expertise, and our location in the heart of New York City—mere steps away from New York’s Theater District—NYU is in a unique position to foster a pipeline of musical talent for Broadway orchestras. Playing professionally on Broadway is a dream for many promising musicians and this initiative will bring them one step closer to fulfilling that ambition,” said Jonathan Haas, co-director of NYU Orchestras.   

Students will be required to audition for the orchestra and will also perform in NYUO¹ or NYUO², two premier ensembles focusing primarily on large-scale symphonic and chamber orchestra repertoire. The NYU Broadway Orchestra will be co-directed by Stephanie Baer, Director of String Studies, and Jonathan Haas, Director of Percussion Studies at NYU Steinhardt, in addition to Miller and Sperling.

The Broadway Orchestra will also present a full season of concerts focused on musical theater in collaboration with the department’s Vocal Performance program. The Broadway Orchestra initiative parallels developments in the Vocal Performance program, which is adding courses in a range of contemporary vocal techniques to prepare students for today’s professional realities.

The NYU Broadway Orchestra’s fall season will feature a fully staged production of Guys and Dolls at NYU Steinhardt’s Frederick Loewe Theatre, September 20-24, and a concert production of Anything Goes at NYU Skirball Center on November 30 (further details and ticketing information to be announced).

About the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions
Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. Music and Performing Arts Professions serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in-education (music, dance, and drama).

About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Located in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village, New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit steinhardt.nyu.edu.

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Sarah Binney
Sarah Binney
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