• Image about New World Symphony
Photograph by Moris Moreno
The campus walls contain more than 17 miles of fiber-optic cable that connect to a system called Internet2, a consortium network restricted to universities (the New World Symphony is the only non-degree-granting institution in the system). With no commercial traffic, the Internet2 system runs at a blinding gigabyte per second, which allows real-time, high-definition video to be broadcast throughout the building. The New World Symphony's fellows — there are more than 80 involved in the three-year program at any one time — will be able to talk to professional musicians, conductors and composers throughout the world with the click of a mouse. "In the case of composers, we'll be recording their thoughts on their work for future classes," he says. "Imagine if you had a recording of Beethoven explaining his intent behind a piece of music."

Not to be outdone, the concert hall boasts some interesting features as well. It will fit more than 700 visitors in its most expanded format, with seating on every side of the stage. But many of the seats are retractable, so that the room can convert into a large, open space. The stage itself can also be raised or lowered in several parts, with four smaller satellite stages standing above the main one so that soloists can be distinguished from the rest of the symphony.

The various configurations of the concert hall will allow the symphony to present concerts in a variety of ways. Plans have been made, for example, to host half-hour concerts for an admission fee of just $2.50 in hopes of attracting pedestrians from Lincoln Road. On other nights, starting at 10 p.m., the seating will all be retracted and a DJ will join a group of musicians playing contemporary music in order to cater to the late-night South Beach crowd.


By the Numbers 
A look at the New World Symphony's new campus

$160 million: Total cost of the project
100,641: Total construction space*
29,595: Size of the performance space*
9,288: Size of public areas*
7,950: Size of the rooftop garden*
2,400: Size of the SunTrust Pavilion*
1,263: Size of the music library*
756: Number of patrons the concert hall can seat
29: Number of coaching rooms
4: Number of ensemble rooms
5: Number of technical suites * Size given in square feet
Regardless of the space's physical layout, many concerts that take place in the hall will be simultaneously screened on a 7,000-square-foot wall facing a park that sits between the campus and Washington Avenue, one of Miami Beach's primary thoroughfares. The park, like the parking garage on the opposite side of the campus, is being built with city money. The campus itself utilizes both city and county money - and a good bit of it at that. "For our building alone, we received $30 million from the county and $15 million from the city," Herring says. "The total cost is $160 million. The rest is private. Fundraising is a challenge, but we are unique. There are no other orchestras or schools like us, which makes us stand out in a way other orchestras and educational institutions cannot. We have a lot of local patrons, but [we’re getting] more and more national ones as well."

In a down economy, the symphony's move into these amazing new quarters is nothing short of a miracle. In 2003, in the wake of the previous recession, South Florida's professional classical-music troupe, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, shut down. But the New World Symphony, a wholly unique hybrid of orchestra and higher education, has leveraged its unusual profile to build a bright future.

"Just like Aspen fills up with music lovers in the summer, just like the Berkshires has Tanglewood and the Shakespeare festival, that's going to happen here," Herring predicts. "Art Basel [an annual art show in Miami] was first, we're second, and it's only going to grow."

It's a bold statement. But if the once-dead, now pedestrian-heavy Lincoln Road is any indication, Herring and the New World Symphony are pretty good at making predictions.