ICWF 2019: Beethoven, Dvorak, Stravinsky

ICWF 2019

Cheung RachleffFrom August 6 to 16, 2019 the International Conducting Workshop and Festival is again proud to present a workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria in partnership with the New Symphony Orchestra. ICWF 2019 will be led by two of the most internationally esteemed conducting teachers:  Larry Rachleff (Rice University) and Donald Schleicher (University of Illinois). They will be assisted by Benjamin Loeb (ICWF Artistic Director)

What we do

Whether you are highly trained conductor, a promising student, or an avid amateur, our workshops offer many opportunities to improve as a conductor. We believe the best learning comes from studying standard repertoire with world class faculty in an intensive, yet non-competitive, professional, and supportive atmosphere. For practical experience, all participants conduct both full orchestra and piano sextet. Subjects studied include conducting technique, interpretation, score study, analysis, rehearsal technique, stage deportment, and musician interaction. All participants receive equal opportunity in a completely transparent organization.


Date of Workshop: August 6 through August 16 (11 days)
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
Host Orchestra: New Symphony Orchestra

Basic details:

  • Twelve full orchestra sessions
  • Nine 3-hour Sextet sessions 
  • Each conductor will get a minimum 60 minutes with full orchestra
  • Limit of 30 active participants
  • Post-session discussions focusing on repertoire, career, score study, and more
  • Stage deportment sessions led by Susan Dunn
  • Lunch (or one other meal included)
  • Hotels and breakfast are not included in the tuition this year, but conductors may choose from the affordable hotel option (see below) at a significantly reduced rate which includes breakfast.
  • Airport transfers included
  • Farewell party
  • Beautiful rehearsal hall setting for all sessions
  • All sessions will be Digitally Recorded in High Definition and concert quality audio, 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 recommended).
  • One chamber concert given by faculty and guest artists to illuminate the repertoire of the workshop.

Immediately following this workshop conductors will have the opportunity to take 30-minute slots with the orchestra to video the repertoire studied in an uninterrupted setting. Conductors in the past have used these sessions to capture first rate video footage to use for applications and demo purposes.

Geoff Loff

Levels of Participation

  • One level of participation 
  • Each conductor will get at least 60 minutes with the full orchestra (six 10-minute sessions)
  • Sextet sessions will be equally divided among all conductors. 
  • 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.Todd Craven


We will present one Chamber Concert featuring faculty and guest artists in programs designed to illuminate the workshop repertoire. Participants will not perform on these concerts.

Faculty, Staff, Guest Artists

  • Larry Rachleff (Rice University)
  • Donald Schleicher (University of Illinois)
  • Susan Dunn (Rice University) 
  • Russell Miller (Eastman School of Music)
  • Benjamin Loeb (Artistic Director, ICWF)


Beethoven Symphony #2
  • Beethoven Symphony #7
  • Beethoven Symphony #8
  • Dvorak Symphony #7
  • Dvorak Symphony #8
  • Dvorak Serenade for Strings
  • Stravinsky Firebird Suite (1919)
  • Stravinsky Petrushka (1947)

    Bryan Dunnewald

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."

New Symphony Orchestra
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 here

Orchestra Sessions

  • The schedule to the Orchestra Sessions will be distributed about one week prior to the beginning of the workshop and will show the sessions each conductor is assigned, but not the repertoire. Conductors will choose the repertoire for each session during the workshop.
  • Conductors will have six 10-minute slots (minimum of 60 minutes total)
  • Conductors will have essentially free choice of repertoire in the Orchestra sessions. Some sessions may be limited to Beethoven and/or Dvorak, but by Orchestra Session 4, all repertoire will be available. 
  • All orchestra sessions will take place in the Tsarsko Selo Banquet hall.ICWF 2018 Conductor group

Sextet Sessions

  • The sextet is made of a string quintet from the New Symphony Orchestra and piano (Russell Miller) who will cover the woodwinds, brass, percussion, and string divisi.
  • During the Sextet sessions, we will cover all of the repertoire.
  • Conductors will be able to request specific sections to conduct.
  • Sextets are specifically designed to allow us to explore the challenges of the repertoire in great detail. There will be more stopping for feedback from the faculty.
  • Sextet time will be equally divided among the conductors.
  • All sextet sessions will take place in one of the air-conditioned Tsarsko Selo Banquet halls.
    Nell Flanders Sextet

Discussion Sessions

  • Generally at the end of each day, the faculty will hold a half hour discussion session to recap the issues discovered in that day's sessions.
  • Conductors will have the opportunity to get one-on-one feedback from all the faculty during breaks and after each session.
  • Some discussion sessions will be scheduled around topics such as rehearsal technique, score study, career paths, and more.
  • Faculty are quite available for ad hoc individual and group discussions.Brandon Eldredge


One of the great benefits of the workshop is the opportunity to grow and develop a supportive network of conductor colleagues. These relationships can very often lead to professional and academic opportunities as well as lifelong friendships. While we can't claim credit for every success of our ICWF alumni, we are proud of their accomplishments and know that their experience at the workshops provided some positive learning that they used to further their career and love for music. 
ICWF 2018 Women
Here is what some of our past participants have said about their ICWF experience.

Some of our past participants now hold or have held positions such as Berkeley Symphony Music DirectorEl Paso Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia OrchestraCharleston Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota OrchestraDetroit Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony Associate ConductorNorwalk Symphony Music DIrector, Amarillo Symphony Music Director, National Symphony Assistant Conductor,  Santa Cruz Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Buffalo Symphony Associate ConductorKansas Symphony Assistant ConductorArkansas Symphony Assistant Conductor, and many more.  Our past participants have also been accepted into the most prestigious conducting programs in the world including at The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Peabody Institute, Rice University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory, and many more.
ICWF 2018 Men


This year, hotel accommodations are not included in the tuition fee, but we have made very good arrangements with the Tsarsko Selo SPA hotel. If you would prefer to find other accommodations, you are free to do so. ICWF will still provide a group lunch (or one meal). 

SPA Hotel Tsarsko selo

  • Modern, Single rooms
  • Air-conditioning
  • Breakfast included
  • All sessions on premises
  • Free Wifi
  • Restaurant on site
  • $715 for 13 nights single occupancy (special rate). Hotel check in is August 5 and check out is August 17. For extra session conductors, check out is August 18.
  • Double room occupancy available for $225 additional
  • Additional single room nights are $55/night which include breakfast only.

Tsarsko Selo PoolGuests accompanying conductors will also be provided lunch and free access to all public ICWF events.

Detailed schedule

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 10:00-13:00 Orientation
  14:00-18:00 Sextet 1
  18:00-19:00 Discussion
  19:00-21:00 Stage Presence
Wednesday, August 7, 2019 8:30-9:30 Score Study
  10:00-13:00 Sextet 2
  14:00-17:00 Sextet 3
  17:00-18:00 Discussion
  18:00-20:00 Stage Presence
Thursday, August 8, 2019 8:30-9:00 Score Study
  9:30-13:00 Sextet 4
  14:00-18:00 Orchestra 1 Beethoven only
  18:30-20:30 Stage Presence (advanced)
Friday, August 9, 2019 8:30-9:30 Score Study
  9:50-13:00 Orchestra 2 Beethoven only
  14:00-17:10 Orchestra 3 Beethoven only
  17:30-19:30 Stage Presence (Speaking)
Saturday, August 10, 2019 10:00-13:00 Sextet 5
  14:00-17:00 Sextet 6
  17:30-19:30 Stage Presence (Speaking 2)
Sunday, August 11, 2019 10:00-13:00 Orchestra 4 Beethoven/Dvorak
  14:00-17:00 Ochestra 5 Beethoven/Dvorak
  17:30-19:30 Stage Presence (advanced)
Monday, August 12, 2019 9:00-13:00 Orchestra 6
  14:00-17:30 Sextet 7
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:00-13:00 Sextet 8
  14:00-17:00 Sextet 9
  17:15-18:15 Discussion
  20:00 Chamber Concert
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 10:00-13:10 Orchestra 7
  14:30-17:40 Orchestra 8
  17:15-18:45 Career Discussion
Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:00-13:10 Orchestra 9
  14:10-17:40 Orchestra 10
  18:00-19:30 Administration Discussion
Friday, August 16, 2019 10:00-13:10 Orchestra 11
  14:30-17:40 Orchestra 12
  18:00 Party - Botanica
Saturday, August 17, 2019 10:00-13:40 Extra Session 1
  15:00-18:40 Extra Session 2


Fees and deadlines

  • Application fee $50
  • ICWF 2019 Tuition $3,750
  • ICWF 2019 Auditor $1,750
  • Tsarsko Sel SPA Hotel (13 nights) $715
  • One 30-minute Extra Session (August 17) $750
  • Monday, January 15, 2018 First Application Deadline
  • Monday, January 29, 2018 Notifications for acceptance
  • After February 19, 2018 Applications will be reviewed and processed on a space-available basis.
  • Two weeks after notification $500 non-refundable tuition deposit due to hold space. 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.

Fees must be paid according to schedule in $US.

To apply, click here.

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

Online payments preferred, but US checks (free) and bank transfer ($45 fee) will be accepted. The application is not complete and will not be processed until the payment is received. 

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The Joel Fan Foundation

The International Conducting Workshop and Festival has a fiscal sponsorship relationship with the Joel Fan Foundation. This means that the ICWF can accept grants, accept tax-deductible donations, and carry on other activities under the tax-exempt status of their sponsor. To help you raise money for yourself, the Joel Fan Foundation and the ICWF can each write letters on your behalf. In the last ten years the ICWF granted over $150,000 in tuition scholarships through the generous help of the Joel Fan Foundation.

Technically, you can act as a fundraising agent for the ICWF and raise money from your own network of support for your tuition scholarship. Anyone you know who would like to help you would then send their support to the Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch and suggest that the money go to your scholarship. Then, the Foundation will grant the ICWF the money along with the suggestion to whom the money should be applied. The ICWF would then accept the suggestion of the Joel Fan Foundation and apply the money received to the conductor. In the past, the money was 100% granted according to the suggestions. The ICWF guarantees full credit for the amount raised through the Joel Fan Foundation, even if the specific money is not allocated directly to your scholarship. The Joel Fan Foundation has generously agreed not to charge any fees for the processing of this money - the usual fees for fiscal sponsorship relationships are 3-6%.

ArtMatch Process:

  1. Make all checks to the "Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch". Please do not indicate the name of the participant on the check.
  2. To facilitate the processing of the grants, the sponsor should say exactly the following in a cover letter:
    To The Joel Fan Foundation:
    I am making this donation to the Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch in support of the International Conducting Workshop and Festival. I suggest that this money be applied to the tuition scholarship of [name of participant].

    [Name of Sponsor]
    [Address of Sponsor]
    [Email Address of Sponsor]
  3. Mail checks and letters to:
    The Joel Fan Foundation ArtMatch
    c/o International Conducting Workshop and Festival
    3955 E 59th St.
    Davenport, IA 52807
  4. The receipt of the check will be acknowledged by the Joel Fan Foundation and the application of the tuition scholarship will be acknowledged by the ICWF.

The Joel Fan Foundation is a registered 501(3)(c) non-profit corporation and qualifies for tax-deductible contributions.Sean Radermacher

The International Conducting Workshop and Festival is also supported by the REC Music Foundation, a recognized 501(c)3. To help ICWF, please consider making a donation.


Click here to apply


  • Dates August 6th thru August 16th
  • Location Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Orchestra New Symphony Orchestra