Spotlight on CSYO Nouveau Chamber Players


The Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (CSYO) Nouveau Chamber Players program nurtures young African American string players in grades 7 through 12 and has been doing so now for ten years. As part of the CSO’s youth orchestras program, the CSYO Nouveau Chamber Players not only advance their musical training through intensive rehearsals, coaching and performance opportunities, but also develop 21st century skills like creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

Over the years, dozens of students, many of whom also perform in the CSYO Concert Orchestra and Philharmonic, have graduated from the Nouveau Chamber Players program and gone on to advance their musical studies at the country’s leading colleges and conservatories. The program feeds the classical music talent pipeline with young musicians who are underrepresented in the field nationally. 

“Over the past ten seasons, Nouveau members have grown into caring, creative, successful leaders with an enthusiasm and passion for the arts. Their performances open the mind and heart to the beauty of classical music,” said Kathy Jorgensen-Finley, who founded the ensemble when she saw the need as a CSO staff member. “As Nouveau’s founder, witnessing the growth and sustainability of the program has been one of the most rewarding gifts in my life. It is incredibly gratifying to see many of Nouveau’s members go on to college, continuing their passion for the performing arts. Having the honor of collaborating with Marion Peraza de Webb, the wonderful musicians of the CSO, and the community, Nouveau’s future is destined for continued success.”

As artistic leader of this chamber ensemble, Nouveau director Marion Peraza de Webb rehearses weekly with the students, and has done so since the inception of the program. As a mentor and teacher, Mrs. de Webb challenges these students to exceed expectations. Ample performance opportunities drive these weekly training sessions. The Nouveau Chamber Players regularly perform as pre-concert entertainment prior to CSO concerts. For the past several years, the ensemble has been a highlight of the annual Classical Roots concert, and in 2015 the students were featured during LUMENOCITY®. The regular host of Nouveau Chamber Players rehearsals and concerts is College Hill Presbyterian Church. For nine years, the ensemble was hosted by First United Church of Christ; they moved this year to allow for growth. Other area churches often invite the students to perform as part of their worship services or host other recitals. 

While Nouveau is certainly a Cincinnati treasure, these musicians have been making a splash around the country. In November, Maxwell Fairman, a member of Nouveau and winner of the Norman E. Johns Chair Award, performed at The White House for First Lady Michelle Obama with his Sphinx Organization quartet. The Peraza Music Workshop Ensemble, a chamber orchestra led by Ms. de Webb, received a prestigious invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall in March. Fourteen members of the ensemble are members of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras, and three are members of Nouveau Chamber Players.

Another performance highlight for Nouveau Chamber Players this season was the Sphinx Organization conference, SphinxConnect. The ensemble traveled to Detroit, MI to perform for attendees of the annual conference, which offers inspiration and networking while celebrating the organization’s commitment to the transformative power of diversity in the arts. Many Nouveau alumni have competed as semi-finalists in the Sphinx Young Artist Competition. 

On April 30, the Nouveau Chamber Players will perform at Memorial Hall as part of the tenth anniversary celebration and the inaugural Nouveau Award for Diversity & Leadership in the Arts*, which will be awarded to Nouveau co-founders Kathy Jorgensen-Finley and Marion Peraza de Webb. With talented students and a team of dedicated mentors, the ensemble looks forward to a strong future of nurturing the citizens and musicians of the future.

CSYO Nouveau Chamber Players is sponsored in part by the Queen City Chapter of The Links, Incorporated national Signature Arts Program, Classics through the Ages.