The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra is the premier professional orchestra on the Emerald Coast. The ensemble performs an annual concert series from September to April on the main stage of the beautiful Mattie Kelly Arts Center. Performances include classics, family, pops, and educational concerts, featuring internationally acclaimed guest soloists and emerging local talent.
The NFSO hosts the annual John Leatherwood Concerto Competition which awards scholarship money to junior, high school, and collegiate division winners as well as the opportunity to perform with the orchestra in the yearly Stars of Tomorrow concert.
The orchestra is also involved in a number of educational and community outreach initiatives including the Carnegie Hall Link-up concerts, which connect to schools throughout two local counties and hosts hundreds of students in an interactive concert every year at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center.
Community Events & Programs
The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra has been providing innovative music education outreach to area youth since 1987, reaching more than 100 thousand children with the Emerald Coast’s most comprehensive K-12 endeavor.
The fundraising efforts of the NFSO Guild have allowed many children in our community to experience orchestral concerts and music programs that help vitalize young lives by providing an outlet for creativity that is not always available.
The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra is committed to the welfare of our community. We recognize that music and art programs provide children with an opportunity for self-expression and learned skills to build self-esteem and respect.
Annual 5th Grade Concert
For over 30 years, the NFSO has provided a free annual concert for Okaloosa & Walton fifth-grade students with specialized youth-oriented programming and teacher curriculum. This annual event not only provides entertainment that encourages and inspires youth in their educational journey, it encourages them to have fun!
During the annual event, the NWF State College Fine Arts Division sponsors a popular “Picture the Music” art contest in conjunction with the annual theme of the NFSO 5th Graders concerts. Cash prizes are awarded to winners and all artwork is displayed in the lobby of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center Mainstage theater.
This event is free of charge.
Contact Suzanne Flood, Audience Services Coordinator, at (850) 729-6065 to make your reservations.
LINK UP! with Carnegie Hall
The NFSO was the first to bring Carnegie Hall’s Link Up! programs to students in our region. Through Link Up!, students in grades 3–5 have the opportunity to join the orchestra in this highly participatory program, where they learn to sing and play an instrument providing kids with an interactive experience in music they wouldn’t normally get elsewhere.
Link Up! provides just what any young aspiring musician needs: guidance from seasoned professionals who know exactly how to provide encouragement and positive memories for a lifetime.
Contact Lynne Fehrenbach, NFSO Education Director at firstname.lastname@example.org for Link Up! participation information.
KATS: Kids at the Symphony
The future of our community is bright!
Youth selected by area schools and their families attend NFSO concerts free-of-charge. The free concerts are an opportunity for youth to enjoy live music and engage in an on-stage visit with the conductor.
Youth Concerto Competition
The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra hosts an annual Concerto Competition for youth from 17 North Florida counties. The competition is held each September with finals in October. Winners are selected to perform alongside the orchestra in the annual “Stars Of Tomorrow” concert at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center’s Main Stage.
This event would not be possible without the financial support provided by the NFSO Guild and designated donations.
Download the competition flyer for more information.
Northwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra
A grant from the NFSO Guild established the region’s first youth orchestra program. Participants benefit from the state-of-the-art facilities of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, instruction by NWF State College music faculty & affiliation/collaboration with the NFSO.
Contact the NWF State College Fine Arts Division at (850) 729-5382 for more information.
Auditions & Opportunities
Our professional musicians have dedicated their lives to music and the pursuit of continued excellence on their instruments. It takes many hours each day of dedication, commitment, and hard work to play on a high enough level to perform as a member of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra.
Many of the highest-level professionals in the area have joined the NFSO to bring excellent and eclectic orchestral performances to the Emerald Coast.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, please download the audition information. The orchestra accepts resumes year-round for its sub-list.
For more information, contact Personnel Manager Matt Fossa at email@example.com.
Support the Orchestra
The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit organization and relies on private support, corporate support and grants for financial support. Your generous tax-deductible donation helps ensure bringing great music, guest artists and educational outreach to Northwest Florida.
Ticket sales and season subscriptions cover only a portion of the NFSO’s operating expenses, making contributed income vital for the continued excellence of the NFSO in its current season and beyond. A wide variety of sponsorship and gift opportunities are available.
For information on giving to the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, please visit the Support page.
Give a Gift Today
Donations to the NFSO are administered through the Northwest Florida State College Foundation a 501(c) 3 organization as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (tax ID # 59-2865698). Donations to the Northwest Florida State College Foundation designated to the NFSO are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. All donors receive prominent listing in the season program and other recognition/benefits depending on gift level.
Get Membership Perks
All season donors will receive special perks for their generous support, which may include tickets, reserved parking, complimentary beverages, and/or donors’ names recognized in our concert program.
Meet the Maestro
Conductor Todd Craven is the newly appointed Music Director/Conductor of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. He will lead the 35th anniversary season of the orchestra beginning in September of 2021 at the orchestra’s home, the Mattie Kelly Arts Center.
Winner of the 2019 Los Angeles Conducting Competition, Todd is the Co-founder and Music Director of the Orlando Contemporary Chamber Orchestra and has held the positions of Assistant Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Assistant Conductor for the Florida Grand Opera. Todd has led orchestras including the Detroit Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Edmonton Symphony and Virginia Symphony Orchestras. Orlando Arts Magazine said of the “captivating” world premiere of Donald Yu’s Four Seasons, that Mr. Craven “held the ensemble together with precision, allowing each instrument to resonate while minding the role of the soloist.” Todd was previously a prize-winning trumpet player, beginning his professional career as Principal Trumpet of the Sarasota Orchestra. He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony and was a frequent guest artist at the Sarasota Music Festival.
Mr. Craven made his conducting debut in 2012 with members of the Sarasota Orchestra and Redeemer chorus in Maurice Duruﬂe’s Requiem. Soon thereafter he was invited to a conducting workshop in St. Petersburg, Russia where he conducted in a prizewinner’s concert with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic. Todd then returned to his alma mater the University of Michigan to pursue conducting studies with Kenneth Kiesler and later the Peabody Conservatory where he studied with Marin Alsop. Other conducting mentors include Donald Schleicher, JoAnn Falletta and William Wiedrich.
About the Symphony
“Cannot imagine how we are so lucky to have such a fine orchestra right here in Okaloosa County! If someone is a stranger to classical music, this group will surely make you a raving fan!”
– Gloria F., Facebook Review
The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra (NFSO) is the Emerald Coast’s premier, fully professional orchestra, which performs in-residence in the Arts Center’s custom orchestra shell. The NFSO is a non-profit organization operated under the auspices of Northwest Florida State College. The NFSO relies on tax-deductible donations, corporate underwriting and season subscriptions to continue the orchestra’s musical excellence and the symphony’s numerous long-standing educational endeavors for youth. Tax-deductible donations are administered through the Northwest Florida State College Foundation, a 501 © (3) organization. The orchestra has operated and performed as an entity of the college continuously since 1987, providing cultural programs to thousands of area residents in its history.
Northwest Florida Symphony Guild
Organized in June 1988, the NFSG is a member of the League of American Orchestras and was incorporated in 1990 under the Laws of the State of Florida as a Not-For-Profit 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt corporation. The purpose and goals of the Northwest Florida Symphony Guild are:
- To support the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra
- To develop interest and promote participation in musical programs, activities, and concerts in the area
- To increase attendance at performances of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra
- To work toward cooperation among all area arts groups
- To encourage participation in musical programs and to provide musical opportunities and experiences for area school children; including support of the Northwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra and Junior Orchestra of NWF State College