Industry Response

“It’s totally fresh. It’s totally new. It’s completely new thinking about how to present concerts. Nobody else is doing this, so it’s very exciting for audiences, and it’s very exciting for performers.

“The thing that’s unique about Sympho is that they’re effectively tackling what everyone in the orchestra business is trying to do, which is to be appealing to, to attract, to engage emotionally and intellectually a younger audience. I’ve been to multiple Sympho performances – both ours and in New York – and they get a very young, intelligent audience, and they keep them riveted for two hours. Nobody else is doing that. It’s a hard challenge to take a medium that reached its artistic apogee 100-150 years ago and make it appeal to someone who spends eight hours a day online. It’s not so easy, and Sympho is tackling it better than anybody.

“For the NCCO, Paul Haas was a great partner because he was the artistic driving force behind the project, but he also helped us – the crew, the team, the administrative staff – to put the project together. He understood the artistic needs of the members of the orchestra and the soloists, but he also helped us behind the scenes. Putting the project together, working with the philanthropic community, working with publicists: there are a lot of things involved in getting a concert on the stage. He understands all of those things, which makes him uniquely effective and attractive to work with, and he made it fun for everybody.”

Parker Monroe, Executive Director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra

“I think Paul Haas and Sympho are willing to take anything on, and that’s really exciting. Music needs to move with the times. You need to try to do it in different environments and mix it up. They’re ready, willing, and able to do that, and that’s a fantastic thing.

“[ARCO] was professional, and it was magnificently delivered. It was wonderful to see this all come together in the way that it did. It was easy – not for Paul – but easy for us to be involved in this work, because it was creatively brilliant and really well-executed.”

- Rebecca Robertson, President and CEO of the Park Avenue Armory

“You feel like it’s a ‘happening’. You feel like there’s something bigger than just a music concert going on, and I think the audience feels that. It’s palpable. It draws the audience in in a way they’re not used to, and I think that’s an amazing experience for a lot of people.

“It’s extremely exciting to be in a very unusual place, to take incredibly beautiful music and stage it in a way that people just don’t expect: to have it lit, to have a full experience in which it was happening from the moment you walked in (it was happening before you walked in!) and it continued through the rest of the night. The musicians are always top-flight – brilliant young players. All these ideas – that might be handled in a different way if it were all just for effect – would be lost if the musicmaking wasn’t first rate, which it always is.”

- Elliott Forrest, Peabody Award-Winning Broadcaster and Producer

“In my work as the Artistic Director of the Park Avenue Armory in New York, I commissioned Paul Haas to create a composition and live performance event for the opening of the inaugural Tune In Music Festival in 2011. What began as a straightforward proposition instead became a music event of grand proportion, in which Haas, along with Bora Yoon and Paul Fowler, generated a full concert length work that was deeply informed by the architecture of the Drill Hall at the Armory, drawing upon the unique aural and visual design properties of the space itself, as well as an epic cycle of music that exceeded all possible expectations. The piece, ARCO, was both site-specific to the Armory, and immensely relevant to the audiences who exuberantly found a unique voice through the sheer skill and depth of talent harnessed within the Sympho concert as devised and envisioned by Paul.”

- Kristy Edmunds, Executive and Artistic Director, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA

Press Response

“Innovative concerts that place music in varying contexts… played with polish and spirit”

- New York Times

“The pièce d’occasion turned out to be ARCO, a surprisingly mellow yet stubbornly complex essay in communal mysticism…fraught with intellectual subtlety and evolutionary significance…just sit back, relax and enjoy the exotic ride.”

-Financial Times (

“…the event’s main argument came from the music itself… Mr. Haas is an energetic conductor who believes in what he is doing and knows how to do it. Thomas Beecham liked to say that successful conducting was the ability to hire good musicians, and Mr. Haas has assembled a first-rate band of young people… confident, well-rehearsed performances… Antiphonal effects by instrumentalists and a small chorus from the back and sides were the theatrical effects that worked best… Good luck to Sympho… it deserves to prosper.”

The New York Times

“The effect is haunting and evocative… a continuous cascade of music and visuals, unfamiliar and familiar, challenging and sublime… Haas‘ gutsy conducting style, as is usual for him, is energetic and elastic while being in control of and sensitive to changes in tempo, rhythm and dynamics. He throws his entire body into the performance in a way that has been continually lauded by critics since his professional debut in 1997… there is a frisson in the air, a sense among the audience members that something momentous has occurred in those 100 minutes as they step back onto the gritty streets of the Lower East Side.”

- San Francisco Chronicle

“There was a genuine sense of event…it certainly exploded any notion I have of an orchestral concert. It felt as if something important was happening, something with emotional stakes, and it felt like I was a part of it.”

- Symphony Magazine

“REWIND fast-forwards the traditional concert via hip, multisensory stimulation that includes creative lighting, a kinetic sculpture suspended from the ceiling, electronic music, and innovative use of the performance space… In short, from innovative programming to awe-inspiring visuals, REWIND sought to keep its audience engaged. But did the performance succeed in doing so? It certainly did, according to my date for the evening, a nonmusician whom I have dragged to countless concerts. He said REWIND was the best concert we have ever attended together. He is neither a classical music aficionado nor someone over the age of 40, and precisely for those reasons, he falls within the program’s target audience. Judging by his opinion, REWIND resoundingly achieved its goal of engaging this group… The youngish audience gave it a standing ovation.”

- San Francisco Classical Voice

“…a dazzling new concert format has been launched, moving us into the future by a century or two. Or maybe a millennium or two. This was a true ear-opener — and eye-opener too…Credit the fast-rising guest conductor Paul Haas from New York — a real find! — not only for bringing off the modern program, but also for extraordinary eloquence in leading these locals and making them sound like a million-dollar ensemble. His reading of Schoenberg‘s mystical “Transfigured Night” was to die for, as dramatic and sensitive as any you have ever heard.”


“REWIND refits the classical experience for a new century… You had the feeling of being with musicians, not just observing them… Traditional audiences demand to have their say, but here all stilted, ritual interruptions were squelched… The come-on to newcomers was clear: “Look, we can be hip too.” Yet the center of the evening was the supercharged Romanticism of Schoenberg’s “Verklärte Nacht,” performed with passion and beauty by Mr. Haas and his young players… “Rewind” seemed to involve its young and substantial audience so acutely because the music and the musicians were very good… It also worked because the physical format made sure that classical music’s bad habits didn’t have a chance.”

- New York Times

“a mixed-media sensory experience that was like nothing I’ve seen before and, dare I say it, it even bordered on the spiritual.”


ARCO…unfolded as a continuous, 90-minute, period- and style-hopping stream. A collaboration among the composers Paul Haas, Bora Yoon and Paul Fowler, ARCO borrows a couple of concepts from pop music: the mash-up, in which unrelated pieces are melded together, and the remix, which embellishes and reconstitutes familiar music…[The music was] gently meditative…exquisite.”

- The New York Times

“It’s high time these brilliant artists got access to a stage and audience worthy of their invention…[ARCO] echoed with all the weight of the hall’s history as both performance venue and practice site for armed battle…the ambition and scope of this new work [were] impossible to ignore.”


“…the audience was entranced by an idiosyncratic, intermission-free program that was arranged like an iPod playlist.”

- The New Yorker

“Newcomers to classical music get mystified by the protocols of the concert hall. The quasi-religious veneration of the event. The no coughing. The no clapping between movements of a given piece. The lack of visual stimulation, aside from staring at the musicians up on stage - rows of penguins, in black-and-white formal dress - for a couple of hours. Much of this was flipped on its head by Saturday’s terrific “REWIND” program by the New Century Chamber Orchestra, led by Paul Haas, its guest conductor, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum in San Francisco. It stimulated more than the ears. It had an indie-rock hipness about it. It was fun, even: Imagine! And best of all, the music, which sampled centuries, from Baroque (Purcell, Corelli) to brash or bluesy modern repertory (Alfred Schnittke, James MacMillan), was smartly stitched together and beautifully played.”

- San Jose Mercury News