Musician and experience designer Zach Manzi is the co-founder and clarinetist of Conduit, a musical group that is currently in residence at the Frost School of Music at University of Miami as the Knight Foundation Fellowship Ensemble.
Conduit’s objective in this fellowship is to design and produce three alternative concert formats for millennial audiences in Miami. In creating the alternative formats, Conduit is using a creative approach to problem solving called design thinking. This approach is creative approach to developing experiences rooted in empathy for audiences, and involves observing and interviewing target audience members, generating numerous ideas about new kinds of experiences for them, testing the ideas with prototypes, and producing full-scale pilot performances. Conduit will be commissioning several new works, completing a certification in foundations of design thinking with IDEO U, traveling for performances and festivals, engaging Miami millennials in research, mentoring undergraduate students at Frost, and sharing their experiences on Medium.
Zach is also the bass clarinetist in Nu Deco Ensemble, Miami’s 21st century genre-bending orchestra, which performs original works, classics, and collaborations with artists such as Ben Folds, Kishi Bashi, and Jacob Collier. He is also the current author of Nu Deco’s blog.
Before these positions, Zach played three seasons as a Clarinet Fellow at the New World Symphony (NWS) in Miami, where he performed orchestral and chamber music programs and led performance and educational projects for new audiences. His most recent project, transmuse, was a musical experience created in collaboration with transgender community in South Florida to celebrate the trans experience, sourcing stories from trans people and fusing them with music to create a space to bring the community together. In the 2016-17 season, he designed and produced a full-orchestra concert for NWS called DIMENSIONS, an interactive performance geared toward a young audience that had no previous experience with classical music. This program empowered audience members to explore many different ways of listening through the orchestra's favorite pieces of music through extramusical creative activity including writing, drawing, and crafting paper models in order to discover their own pathway into classical music. Zach co-created and produced the informal educational webisode series "NWS Offstage," in which Fellows give tips about being healthy and productive musicians to high school music students. He was also a co-creator of the New World Symphony x Pratt Institute collaboration BLINK, BURN., which showed at Art Basel Miami 2017.
Along with NWS Creative Director and designer Siggi Bachmann, Zach is the co-creator of Audience Experience Design, a design thinking toolkit tailored for artist-entrepreneurs and arts organizations to practice strategic innovation in audience engagement. The first version of this toolkit will be available soon. Zach has facilitated design thinking workshops at Venture Café Miami, Maven Leadership Collective, New World Symphony, and University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, and has been invited to speak at national and international conferences about the design of classical music experiences, including the Classical:NEXT conference in Rotterdam and TEDxCoconutGrove in Miami.
As an undergraduate, Zach was one of twenty students to be awarded a Morse Teaching Artist Fellowship, with which he taught music to third graders in a New York City public school during the 2014-15 academic year. The students in his classes explored classical music as a key to unlocking intuition through reflective activities and self-directed projects. He also served as a clarinet mentor in the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra. Before moving to Miami, Zach performed regularly in New York as a freelance clarinetist. Most recently, he has performed in summer festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival, Lucerne Festival Academy, ChamberFest Dubuque, and Madison New Music Festival. Zach received his Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School.