“It really is the belief that there is great music in addition to the standard ‘greatest hits’ repertoire that needs to be played and heard and appreciated that keeps us going.”

– Bob Altizer, President, Board of Directors, MusicaNova Orchestra

At a time when symphony orchestras across the country are struggling to make ends meet, some of the nation’s most venerable institutions are closing their doors, and pundits are questioning the continued vitality of classical music, one Phoenix-based symphony orchestra is betting on the future.


Founded in Scottsdale in 2003, MusicaNova Orchestra has quickly established itself as one of Arizona’s most exciting professional symphony ensembles by taking a chance on new, young talent. MusicaNova concerts regularly feature young musicians as solo and ensemble performers and new works by young composers.

According to Bob Altizer, President of the orchestra’s board of directors, they have a saying at MusicaNova, “We play the greatest music you’ve never heard — yet!”

They’re not just featuring your performers; MusicaNova is actively nurturing new talent with an aggressive educational outreach plan, both through partnerships with local schools and through their own Young Artists Series.

Altizer describes MusicaNova’s educational outreach as comprising three main initiatives:

“MusicaNova visits schools, schools visit MusicaNova, and MusicaNova and schools collaborate on performances.”

He elaborates, “Some MusicaNova young artists take part in our visits to schools, talking about their life as musicians with their contemporaries and demonstrating their playing. We welcome chaperoned visits by school groups to MusicaNova orchestra rehearsals, and youth under 18 are always admitted free at our orchestra concerts with a paid adult admission.

“Finally, through our relationships with schools we hope to identify even more student soloists and ensembles who can participate in one or more of our concert series.”

As for the Young Artist Series–concerts devoted exclusively to young musicians–Altizer sees this initiative as particularly central to MusicaNova’s mission.

“Part of our mission to seek out and perform new music involves new players with new points of view,” Altizer explains. “We expect the Young Artists Series to help us succeed in that.”

Milena-smallThis season the young Artist Series and the professional orchestra are a little more connected than usual. On Sunday, October 26, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt makes her solo début with the MusicaNova Orchestra playing the “Viola” concerto by Sir Edward. Less than a year ago, Milena’s younger sister, Flavia, was featured in MusicaNova’s Young Artist Series.

“Both sisters came on our radar a few years ago, through another one of our chamber music soloists at the time who was Flavia’s colleague in the Phoenix Youth Symphony,” Altizer explains.

The Young Artist Series offered Flavia a unique opportunity for a young violinist.

Flavia Pajaro-van de Stadt“Without organizations such as MusicaNova, it would be much more difficult for me and fellow young musicians to perform in a professional setting while still in our formative years,” says Flavia. “The Young Artist Series creates great opportunities for young musicians to showcase their talents in a very supportive and encouraging environment.”

Milena shares her younger sister’s appreciation, “Organizations like MusicaNova mean so much to me as both a young professional musician and a lover of music and the arts in general. MusicaNova is forward-thinking, and that is the only way to ensure a thriving future for the universal language that is music.”

When asked whether audiences might have an opportunity to see the sisters perform together, Altizer reports, “They’re both masters of the string quartet repertoire, so it’s entirely possible.” But with Flavia now a student at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University and Milena touring the world with the Dover Quartet, it may be a while before they have an opportunity to share a stage.

Altizer, for one, would be happy to see them sharing MusicaNova’s stage. “They play different instruments in the quartet, so we can always hope to see them together in the future.”

Till then, you can catch Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt performing with the MusicaNova Orchestra on Sunday, October 26, 4:00 PM at the Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix.

For more information about MusicaNova Orchestra, upcoming performances and the Young Artists Series, visit musicanovaaz.com.

This special Spotlight Article was awarded to MusicaNova through our Annual Satisfaction Survey Give-Away drawing. Thanks again to all those who participated in the survey. Stay-tuned for further reports on the valuable insights and feedback we received!