ICWF 2016: Mahler, Mozart, and Brahms hosted by the New Symphony Orchestra of Sofia International Conducting Workshop and Festival 2016: Mahler, Mozart, and Brahms (ICWF) with Larry Rachleff and Donald Schleicher, Sofia, Bulgaria July 29 – August 8, 2016

ICWF 2016: Mahler, Mozart, and Brahms hosted by the New Symphony Orchestra of Sofia

International Conducting Workshop and Festival 2016: Mahler, Mozart, and Brahms (ICWF) with Larry Rachleff and Donald Schleicher, Sofia, Bulgaria July 29 – August 8, 2016

From July 29-August 8, 2016 the International Conducting Workshop and Festival is again proud to present a workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria in partnership with the New Symphony Orchestra. ICWF 2016: Mahler, Mozart, and Brahms will be led by two of the most internationally esteemed conducting teachers:  Larry Rachleff (Rice University and Rhode Island Philharmonic) and Donald Schleicher (University of Illinois). They will be assisted by Benjamin Loeb (ICWF Artistic Director).

As in the past, we will offer conducting training and critique in a non-competitive, professional and supportive atmosphere.  It is a great opportunity to immerse oneself deeply in important standard and challenging orchestral repertoire which will include Mahler Symphony #4 and the Adagiettofrom Symphony #5, Brahms Symphonies #1 and 3, and Mozart Symphonies #38, 39, and 41. (Repertoire is subject to change).

Without increasing the tuition, the workshop this year will include even more sessions than ever: 12 Orchestra sessions (both 3- and 4-hour), 9 3-hour Sextet sessions, discussions, study and special subject sessions led by Susan DunnEach full participant will have 60 minutes of podium time with the full orchestra and at least 30 minutes with the sextet.

This year, in addition to the regular Chamber Concert, we will present a full Orchestra Concert conducted by the ICWF faculty and featuring special guest artists. Repertoire on the program will include Mozart Symphony #38 (Donald Schleicher, conductor) and Parto, parto (Susan Dunn, soprano, and Larry Rachleff conductor), and Mahler Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Eleni Matos, mezzo sopranoRobert Gardner, baritone, Benjamin Loeb, conductor).

In the Orchestra sessions, conducting slots are 10 minutes long. In the Sextet sessions, participants will conduct a string quintet plus piano, which covers woodwinds and brass parts.  Parts of some quintet sessions may be devoted to difficult excerpts that are pre-selected from the workshop repertoire that all participants will be expected to prepare. In the remainder of the sextet sessions, passages are to be selected by the participant. Each conductor will have individual choice of repertoire during orchestra sessions. In all sessions, podium time slots will be flexibly and transparently pre-assigned.

Levels of Participation

For this workshop we are offering only one level of participation which will include 60 minutes with the full orchestra. Sextet sessions will be equally divided among all conductors. All orchestra and sextet sessions will take place in the palatial Boyana Residence (subject to change).

Auditing is also available, but does not include any active podium time. The auditor level is designed for those either who have little experience and training, but show promise, or those with ample opportunity to conduct throughout the year, but want to use this workshop as a chance to observe master teaching.

All tuition fees include hotel and two meals each day. Fees must be paid according to schedule in $US.

All sessions will be Digitally Recorded and ample opportunity will be provided to view session recordings. At the end of each conducting session or day, each conductor will receive a digital file of that session.  Participants must provide his or her own storage media (USB 3.0 hard drive is most recommended).


Concurrent with the workshop, the International Conducting Workshop Festival will present one Chamber Music and one Orchestra Concert featuring faculty, guest artists, and NSO members. Participants will not perform on these concerts. The repertoire on these concerts will be devoted to music of the three composers and their contemporaries. All rehearsals and concerts are open to the participants.

Video Recording Sessions

After the workshop proper is complete on August 9 conductors will have the opportunity to sign up for 30-minute sessions solely to video workshop repertoire. The faculty will not be present and conductors will have free choice of repertoire. This is an excellent opportunity to compile a portfolio of video clips for applications. Each 30-minute session is $900 and includes hotel and two meals for the extra day.

The New Symphony Orchestra

The New Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1991 as an alternative to the existing musical institutions financially supported and controlled by the state. During the years since it was founded the New Symphony Orchestra has produced a cultural model of its own and has created a Society of Friends, dedicated to the welfare of this cultural institution, which is unique in Bulgaria. Julia Hristova’s Concert House, opened in 1990, served as a basis on which the Orchestra was founded. This House had its own unique system of organizing and financing the orchestra and working with its young musicians. According to the words of its founder, Julia Hristova, “We worked not to survive but to create.”

The Musicians

From the very beginning the idea of the New Symphony Orchestra was to be both a school and an institution taking care of young, talented musicians who had no experience on the stages of concert halls, but who had the strong desire to work and perfect them-selves. Over eight hundred musicians of an average age between 18 and 27 have played for the Orchestra. Musician from the School of the New Symphony Orchestra are now members of the biggest Bulgarian orchestral institutions and opera houses, and of orchestras in the USA, Latin America, South Africa, Western and Central Europe. The leading principles in the work with the young musicians, most of whom are still students, is respect for one’s personal opinions, equal opportunities and flexibility in the system of work. According to Julia Hristova “The most important goal in our work is not the concert, but one’s love in the process of ‘making’ music”.

Read more about this important and fascinating orchestra unique to Eastern Europe.


All participants will stay in single, air-conditioned rooms at the magnificant and palacial Boyana Residence, the same location where all of the sessions will be held (subject to change).

Breakfast and one additional meal (usually lunch) is included in the tuition fee. All rooms have free wireless Internet access. It is possible to arrange for spouses to stay at the hotel for a small additional cost. Spouses will also receive two meals each day and have access to all public ICWF events.


Applications are being accepted now and will be reviewed first on January 15. First notifications will be emailed on January 30. After February 15, applications will be reviewed and processed on a space-available basis.$500 non-refundable tuition deposit due within two weeks of acceptance. Generally, applications are processed within two weeks of receipt.

  • Late payment of tuition deposit or tuition payment may result in loss of spot.
  • If a conductor must cancel his or her spot, the tuition deposit and/or tuition will be refunded only if a suitable replacement is found to fill the spot.

To apply, go to http://www.conductingworkshop.org/language/english/forms/2016-icwf-application


Application fee: $50

Participant Tuition (60 minutes with full orchestra, approximately 45 minutes with sextet): $3950

Auditor Tuition: $2500

Extra 30-minute video recording session: $900

Early tuition payment discount (if paid by February 15): $150

       All tuition fees paid by credit card will have a 3.5% service fee added.

Online payments preferred, but US checks and bank transfer will be accepted. The application is not complete and will not be processed until the payment is received.

Application fees are non-refundable.

Benjamin Loeb
c (915) 525-4033


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