Our Story

Organizational History


  • During a cross-country trip, husband-and-wife team Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and Grace Cho brainstorm an idea for a new chamber orchestra.
  • Back at home, they bring together a diverse group of up-and-coming professional freelance musicians, friends, and advisors, to start the New Orchestra of Washington.
  • On October 16, NOW’s first concert was presented at Westmoreland UCC. This family concert included the beloved classic, Camille Saint-Saens The Carnival of the Animals and the premiere of Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez’ Laberinto.

Spring, 2012

  • A pilot concert was presented at Westmoreland UCC, featuring Schumann’s beloved classic, the Piano Quintet in A Major, “The Trout”, a 20th-century work in the form of William Bolcom’s Violin Sonata, and the fusion of classic and popular culture with Stairway to Heaven, arranged for string quartet. The idea of presenting carefully curated, interesting programs resonated with the audience and created an immediate following.
  • The official “Inaugural Concert,” featuring Appalachian Spring, at Westmoreland UCC, garnered an enthusiastic standing ovation and laid the foundation for the orchestra’s official first season.

Season One, 2012-2013

  • September 30, NOW premieres its first official concert season at Westmoreland UCC.
  • The first season included three chamber music concerts and three chamber orchestra programs, the first of which features J. Reilly Lewis an organ soloist in the Poulenc organ concerto.
  • February 27, 2013, NOW obtains 501(c)3 tax exempt status and becomes a legal not-for-profit corporation.
  • The board is formed, led by the first chairman of the board, Stephen Obenski.

Season Two, 2013-2014

  • NOW secures two major sponsorships from the German Embassy and the Mexican Embassy for its Season Premiere in October 2013. German artists Sarah and Rahel Rilling perform the world premiere of Peregrenatio Serpens by Venezuelan composer Andres Levell. World-renowned Mexican composer Arturo Marquez is invited to witness the performance of his beloved Danzon No. 2. NOW receives its first grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

Season Three, 2014-2015

  • NOW secures its first major commission by American composer Julian Wachner, and prepares for its first recording. Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Chamber Symphony by Julian Wachner are recorded at Omega Studios in Rockville, produced by the ACIS Productions.
  • A Kickstarter campaign for NOW’s first recording raises nearly $25,000, becoming the most successful Kickstarter campaign by a classical arts organization in the greater Washington DC area.
  • NOW makes its NYC debut at Trinity Wall Street.
  • NOW makes its debut on Front Row Washington on Classical WETA.
  • The inaugural NOWFest Gala at the Organization of American States is sold to capacity.

Season Four, 2015-2016

  • NOW receives its first major multi-year grant from the Ryuji Ueno Foundation.
  • NOW collaborates with the JCCGW and actor Michael Boudewyns to produce a family concert featuring Peter and the Wolf with live narration, in two sold-out performances.
  • NOW’s board elects a new chair, Phil Mazzara.
  • Principal bass Jessica Eig joins Alejandro and Grace on the leadership team, as Director of Institutional Giving.

Season Five, 2016-2017

  • NOW appears at the National Gallery as a part of the official reopening of the East Wing, performing Yves Klein’s Monotone-Silence.
  • NOW presents the inaugural ArtsMatter award to Dr. Ryuji Ueno at NOWFest 2017, held at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador.
  • Members of the Aeolus Quartet join NOW throughout the season,
  • Two new staff members join the team, principal clarinetist Jeremy Eig as Personnel Manager/Librarian and volunteer-turned-staff Juan Montesinos as Web and Graphic Content Manager.
  • NOW expands its outreach programs and creates a partnership with the DC Concert Orchestra Society. The Aeolus Quartet provided masterclasses for their participants, and select groups performed during our pre-concert receptions.

Season Six, 2017-2018

  • The Aeolus String Quartet joins NOW as its first quartet-in-residence
  • Another volunteer-turned-staff, principal percussionist Robert Schroyer, joins the NOW team as the Director of Communications.
  • NOW partners with Cathedra, led by Michael McCarthy, Music Director of the Washington National Cathedral, and the Washington Master Chorale.