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Led by artistic director and co-founder Michael Tilson Thomas, this stepping stone for gifted young musicians seeking professional careers specializes in innovative, energetic performances and often features renowned guest soloists and conductors. The season lasts from September to May and includes quite a few free concerts. Since 2010, NWS has occupied a spectacular Frank Gehry–designed campus at the New World Center, one of whose features is “wallcasts,” projections of live concerts on a 7,000-foot exterior wall, which can be enjoyed by the public for free in a park-like plaza outside. Tours are offered twice a week for $5 (reservations required).