Clemency B.: In New York city there are lots of ways to get to Carnegie Hall, the subway, a taxi, a stroll down 57th street. You've just found another way to get to America's most famous home for the classical music. Welcome to Carnegie Hall live.
Clemency B.: This broadcast series brings you Carnegie Hall concerts by some of the world's most celebrated artists and you hear the performances exactly as they happen. You are part of the audience sharing the experience of music making at Carnegie Hall. I'm Clemency Barton Hill
Jeff Spurgeon: And I'm Jeff Spurgeon. I know this is going to be a wonderful concert. A once a year event at Carnegie Hall, the concert by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. An enterprise now in its seventh annual incarnation.
Jeff Spurgeon: Young musicians ages 16 to 19 from across the United States have auditioned to be in this orchestra. None of them from music conservatory programs by the way, but all of them reaching a standard of excellence that we think amazing when you hear them.
Clemency B.: Under the direction of Sir Antonio Pappano, the National Youth Orchestra or the NYO as we'll call it, will play two large multi-part works filled with imagery and composed by great masters of the romantic orchestra tradition.
Clemency B.: The Alpine Symphony of Richard Strauss, the composer's final symphonic tone poem that describes the exhilarating ascent and terrifying descent of an Alpine mountain and Les nuit d'et'e, the song cycle by Hector Berlioz that describes the ups and downs of a love affair, in which tonight will feature the style of mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard.
Jeff Spurgeon: And after taking us on those musical journeys in this concert, the NYO will head out on a tour of it's own to Europe, performing in Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam and Hamburg.
Clemency B.: Carnegie Hall live is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support for WQXR is provided in part by the Howard Gilman Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.
Jeff Spurgeon: Exciting performances happen all the time at Carnegie Hall, but there really is a special pleasure for us in sharing this National Youth Orchestra concert with you. The NYO is a project of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, so the institution itself here is very proud of these young people and we also know that there are families and friends of these orchestra members listening to this broadcast and cheering the performers on across the length and breadth of this country.
Clemency B.: The members of the NYO began their audition process nearly a year ago. They sent in not just videos of their musical performances, but also videos in which they spoke a bit about themselves and they had to write an essay because it's understood that NYO members are not just musicians, they're also informal ambassadors for their country. And the NYO experience is intended to broaden them as musicians, but also as citizens.
Jeff Spurgeon: So the members of the orchestra began their work together three weeks ago, just a few miles North of New York city on the campus of the State University of New York at Purchase. They've been getting acquainted, rehearsing in sections with professional players from orchestras around the country and working with Maestro Antonio Pappano.
Jeff Spurgeon: We spoke with some of them earlier this week and they shared some early highlights of their NYO experience.
Speaker 3: Yeah, youth orchestras are amazing in terms of preparing young musicians for the real orchestral job world. It teaches you how to treat your colleagues, your fellow performers. It teaches you how to burn music on the fly, gets you good experience. You can learn pieces now when you're young and there's not a lot of pressure.
Speaker 3: A lot of the people I'm performing with now in these youth orchestras, I will continue to perform with them the rest of my life and I'll always have connections.
Speaker 4: I really love the teamwork, especially teamwork in really connecting across all the string sections, the winds, the brass and I really love collaborative work. Rather than solo where you are the single voice with the orchestra, but when you're inside the orchestra it's just so many other parts working.
Speaker 5: An automatic highlight that just pops into my head has to be the rehearsals of course, and just working with the truly incredible and just absolutely fascinating faculty. It's just been insane. And even just the first rehearsal of Alpine when we were all freaking out, Alpine Symphony, it's something we've all been looking forward to for months and just playing it for the first time was unforgettable. Everyone was close to tears and so excited. So it's feeling how it becomes more comfortable and more personal for everyone has been truly incredible.
Speaker 6: Some of the highlights, the first one is we went on a skyline cruise in New York city after our first week of residency and that was really fun because I had just gotten to know people here and it was fun to spend, I think it was like a three hour boat ride around New York city. That was definitely a lot of fun, a lot of dancing, a lot of laughs.
Clemency B.: We had NYO members, horn player Jackson Pacifica of Dallas, violinist Faustina Housner of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, clarinetist Anoush Pogossian of Glendale, California and oboist Oliver Talukder of Chicago.
Clemency B.: The conductor of the National Youth Orchestra this year is Sir Antonio Pappano and he told us that he feels a real responsibility to lead these young people more deeply into what music making is all about.
Antonio Pappano: It's been a conscious decision to not only give back, but it's a question of sharing information that you've picked up after years and years of a musical life as a career. And I who have spent a lot of time in a theater and telling stories and narrative and drama and theatricality and how important that to bring life to music.
Antonio Pappano: These kids need to hear that or need to be pushed to understand that there's a reason why we're playing this music and what the music is actually talking about even if it doesn't have a title or a program.
Clemency B.: Conductor, Antonio Pappano on the importance of his work with the National Youth Orchestra. And in addition to performing with a star conductor, the NYO also gets to play a work that includes a featured soloist this year that is the superstar mezzo-soprano, Isabel Leonard, and she will be singing the Berlioz song cycle Les nuit d'et'e, the name means the summer nights.
Clemency B.: It's based on a set of six poems by Berlioz, it's contemporary Teofil gotje, writing on themes of love and loss. Antonio Pappano says it's a terrific work for a youth orchestra, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect.
Antonio Pappano: The songs are quite fragile and very, very intimate and are the complete opposite of what you would imagine to be the right music for young people. But that's exactly why they are the right because it puts them not in their comfort zone, it's not blasting away at full force. It's a smaller group that dynamic range is much, much more restrained and that will teach them also working with the singers, the breathing, how they listen. And that's my world of course being an opera conductor so I can make that more easier for them.
Jeff Spurgeon: Maestro Antonio Pappano speaking of his work with the NYO. The orchestra is now on stage, well, not all of them actually because Les nuit d'et'e has no parts for the percussion section, but don't worry, they'll get a big turn in the second half when they play Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony.
Jeff Spurgeon: But right now the crew that is expected for Les nuit d'et'e is on stage tuning up. Many of these players getting their first taste of performing on stage at Carnegie Hall, but not all of them because out of the 115 members, I believe, right Clemency? Are members of the NYO. We have a fair chunk of them who have been members of the orchestra in a previous season. I think about 31 of the members are returning this year for a second trip in this amazing experience of music making with the National Youth Orchestra.
Clemency B.: They hail from some 33 States across the United States also Puerto Rico. We mentioned that the NYO USA also has a younger sister orchestra known as NYO2 and NYO Jazz. And so many incredible musicians, 222 in total represented from 39 US States.
Clemency B.: I must say there's a wonderfully electric atmosphere backstage at Carnegie Hall today, something to do with so many young people. They look incredibly cool and calm and collected given that some of them are making their Carnegie Hall debut. No small feat.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's a very exciting time for these young people. They're all dressed in the trademark NYO outfits, black jackets and ties, bright red trousers and black all-star converse sneakers. The lights in Carnegie Hall have dimmed and the stage door has opened and you hear not only the audience applauding, but members of the orchestra too.
Jeff Spurgeon: For the concert mistress in the first part of this program, she is a violinist from Port Jefferson on Long Island Annalisa Welinder. And so she's called on the oboe for the AE. The orchestra will tune up and then all we need are a conductor and a soloist and we will be experiencing some hot summer nights, not the kind that both Clemency and I thought of when we heard the translation because of course that brings up visions of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.
Clemency B.: Jeff, you weren't supposed to tell them that. Indeed this is-
Jeff Spurgeon: We may as well just get it out and be done with it.
Clemency B.: The grandfather of the song cycle is what Hector Berlioz's Les nuit d'et'e is often referred to. I don't think they're talking about the Greek soundtrack Jeff.
Jeff Spurgeon: I think you're right. All right. So we do have a wonderful crowd in Carnegie Hall tonight because this is a highly anticipated performance. And then tomorrow these young people are going to board a couple of airplanes and head to Europe and take this program on tour in a number in a European music Capitals and it's going to be a very exciting time.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's going to be a very exciting time right now in Carnegie Hall for on stage come mezzo-soprano, Isabel Leonard and conductor Sir Antonio Pappano to bring you the performance by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America and the Berlioz song cycle, Les nuit d'et'e from Carnegie Hall live.
Clemency B.: The song cycle Les nuit d'et'e, Summer nights by Hector Berlioz performed live at Carnegie Hall this evening by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, led tonight by Sir Antonio Pappano with guest performer the mezzo-soprano soloist Isabel Leonard.
Clemency B.: Astonishingly, that's the first time that Isabel Leonard and Sir Antonio Pappano have ever performed together. I hope it's a taste of things to come and I also hope that it's the first of many times in which Isabel Leonard will perform with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA. She certainly had wonderful things to say about them after her first rehearsal.
Isabel Leonard: [inaudible 00:11:41] terrific. It's lovely to work with younger musicians. This is probably the most rehearsal I've had on such a piece because normally when you work with a professional orchestra you come in and you flash through a piece and then you're doing a concert. So it's nice to have time to really also listen to them play. And he's so kind and they're so incredibly lucky to work with them at this point in their development.
Isabel Leonard: I mean he's a fantastic musician and so I am lucky to work with him and I felt lucky to be there and to watch him not only work with them but teach them at the same time. So it's a really interesting dynamic that I like a lot.
Jeff Spurgeon: Isabel Leonard, speaking of her work with the National Youth Orchestra. She clearly has enjoyed it and she just took a solo bow on stage at Carnegie Hall. Maestro Pappano marvelously waiting backstage. And she turned to the orchestra and gave them a great big salute, which they returned as you heard.
Jeff Spurgeon: And that concludes the first half of this concert. We have a great deal more to enjoy in this program and a great deal more orchestra members to hear from in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.
Jeff Spurgeon: We were not able to have any percussionists participate in the first half, but they'll get a workout in Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony in the second half. Tonight's the Carnegie Hall debut for many of the performers in this orchestra. Many of them had to get a passport for their upcoming tour of Europe, which will include concerts in Berlin and Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam and Hamburg, and a chance to perform with some other great mezzo-sopranos for Isabel Leonard cannot make all of the dates. It's very difficult to get singer's schedules together.
Jeff Spurgeon: And so Les nuit d'et'e will be performed on this tour with mezzo-sopranos, Magdalena Kozena, and with Joyce DiDonato. So these young people have a chance to interact with a couple of other fabulous singers of our time.
Jeff Spurgeon: Carnegie Hall live is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, on the Web @arts.gov.
Clemency B.: Additional support for WQXR is provided in part by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.
Jeff Spurgeon: Classical New York is 105.9FM at HD, WQXR Newark and 90.3 FM WQXRW Ossining. Jeff Spurgeon, Clemency Burton Hill. Did you play any youth orchestra in England?
Clemency B.: Well, it's one of those things that is sort of Rites of passage that you have to. I played a numerous youth orchestras, although I never played in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, which Clive Gillinson did. He is the executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall and he performed in the legendary NYO back in his native England. And he was very surprised when he got here, that the National Youth Orchestra didn't exist in the US.
Clemency B.: He then made it his mission, his personal mission to start one. And in the summer of 2013, the NYO USA was launched. Since that time, the program has grown to include an orchestra for younger musicians as we mentioned earlier, that's known as NYO2 and a program for aspiring young composers and NYO Jazz, which is its second year this summer.
Jeff Spurgeon: Now we caught up with some of the students in NYO Jazz and with their artistic director leader and trumpeter Sean Jones, while they were in residence these past few weeks at the campus of SUNY, Purchase in Upstate New York, just a bit North of the city. In addition to their concert at Carnegie Hall, the group is also touring Asia this year.
Sean Jones: I'm Sean Jones and I'm the artistic director for NYO Jazz.
Janell: I'm Janell Finton. I'm from Wheeling, Illinois and I play the trumpet.
Emmanuel M.: Emmanuel Michael, I'm from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and I play guitar.
Anton Kirk: Hello, my name is Anton Kirk. I'm from Milford, Connecticut. At NYO I'm swinging on drums, but I also play piano and I've studied Indonesian gamelan for several years.
Janell: This is my first time in any part of Asia, so we definitely have some cultural exchanges that we're going to do over there with high school students and younger students too. And we are going to present a little bit about jazz and what we do, also get to talk to them and get to exchange about our culture and learn about their culture.
Sean Jones: My programming style is to represent the best of what the big band has to offer. In my mind, the big band is America's orchestral format. The big band represents a wide diaspora, is not just jazz, swinging eighth notes things like this. We want to represent hip hop, we want to represent country music, we want to represent rock, asset jazz, all of that. And so I try to give the listener a buffet type of an experience. Just take them through a huge journey, almost as if they're at amusement park and then when they get done, they're like, wow, we just went on this wild ride and it was America.
Anton Kirk: I think what's amazing with NYO is that we're all coming from a different part of the country and sometimes somebody might have their own jazz identity from that part, but when we come together we try to just sound as one. And you can still hear a little bit of the country through each person.
Anton Kirk: To me, sometimes I can hear their experiences growing up, who they might've listened to. Sometimes it comes from their solo style or their comping when we're playing behind the soloists, even as a pianist the type of course that's used, some might be very more blues oriented, some might be more hip if you might want to call it. But I think it's amazing that when everybody comes together, we just sound like a group.
Emmanuel M.: My parents are immigrants. My dad's from South Sudan and my mom's from Uganda. I grew up listening to the hymn notes that they sing in church, that taught me how to use my ear. I didn't really know music theory and everything behind it, but it taught me the sense of where music should go and why it goes places that it does and why it makes you feel things.
Emmanuel M.: But I started to listen to jazz in sixth grade and ninth grade I thought, why not pick up an instrument in the jazz band? So the day before I auditioned, I went up to my middle school director and I said, "Can I have the guitar music?" And he was like, okay. And I picked up guitar that night and I bombed the audition, but he let me in. That's how it started.
Sean Jones: Emmanuel represents what America is about. You have two refugees from Africa, South Sudan, and Uganda coming to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They get together and they have a child whose name is Emmanuel, who gets a guitar, a cheap guitar at that $400 and learns how to play the blues, a uniquely American art form and is now going to China to influence thousands of people. That is the story of America. That's the best of who we are, and it's going to be amazing to see what this young man is able to do for us with that story. Is really awesome and I can't wait.
Jeff Spurgeon: Oh, isn't he something. That is Sean Jones, a musician and a man of such incredible ideals, perfectly selected to lead the NYO Jazz program. In addition to Sean Jones, who's artistic director and band leader and then playing trumpet and NYO Jazz, you heard some members of the America's Orchestra, as Mr. Jones describes it.
Jeff Spurgeon: Janelle Finton, who's from Wheeling, Illinois, Emanuel Michael from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and drummer Anton Kirk from Milford, Connecticut. NYO Jazz is on tour right now. They're out playing those dates that Mr. Jones described in Asia.
Clemency B.: Tonight though, all our eyes and ears are in New York city at Carnegie Hall as we're celebrating NYO Jazz's classical counterparts, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America now in their seventh year.
Clemency B.: We're going to take a minute now to listen to a recording from last year's NYO USA concert led by none other than Michael Tilson Thomas, here they are performing some of Jean Sibelius's Symphony number two in D major, recorded by WQXR also at Carnegie Hall.
Clemency B.: Just a little taste, a tantalizing taste of last year's National Youth Orchestra performing Sibelius's Symphony number two conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. A performance that prompted the critic of the New York Times, Knowles to say, "I forgot I was listening to teenagers. You didn't have to make their usual youth orchestra apologies. This was creditable as a richly imagined, fully professional performance."
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, we'll expect no less in the second half of the concert that you are enjoying now from Carnegie Hall live by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, the 2019 edition.
Jeff Spurgeon: The program here at Carnegie Hall involving the National Youth Orchestra has grown over time. And another new aspect of NYO USA is the training of new composers. This year there are two teenagers working with the relatively young American composer, Sean Shepherd, to write new pieces, Benjamin Beckmann from Los Angeles and Tyson David from North Carolina. Sean Shepherd is their mentor for this process.
Sean Shepherd: This absolutely still young composers. This is an opportunity they've never really experienced before and it also comes with a fair amount of pressure. We wanted to keep that at bay as long as possible. So as the process went, the composers became more aware of what was really going to be happening, which is their prompts debut, their miniature TV debut.
Sean Shepherd: And so they have both written stellar pieces and over the time that we now have been here in Purchase, in residence with NYO USA, we've seen those pieces blossom with the orchestra. So that of course the first day we get here, they are the composer's pieces, but by today we're two weeks into the program, I would say they're everybody's pieces. This is the orchestra that owns these. It's been very intense.
Sean Shepherd: Like I always say to any composer who has never heard their music played by a live orchestra, it is a much bigger, more multi valence sound than you will ever be able to imagine. That's the excitement of it. And it's been a wonderful process to watch that for them and with the orchestra.
Clemency B.: One of the composers, Tyson Davis titled his piece Delicate Tension and it's written in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Now Davis himself is just 18 years old so that historical event happened some 12 years before he was even born, but he did his homework.
Tyson Davis: It was extraordinary to see the struggle and how the German people were being so oppressed at the time. It was really dark. And then the beauty of having a wall torn down and metaphorically it would represented that and physically would have represented that obviously, these families coming back together and stuff. It's just something so extraordinary and so human.
Jeff Spurgeon: The other composer in the program this summer is Benjamin Beckmann from Los Angeles. His piece is called Oxidant Tallis. And he told us what that means.
Benjamin: So my first thought was that America is just West of Europe. And I was thinking about that word West and it's significance in human migration over the past couple of centuries, especially personally my ancestors leaving Europe to find a better life in America, fleeing religious persecution or poverty in America, people moving West to try to find a new life.
Benjamin: This idea of leaving one place, looking for something better in somewhere else, the anxiety and worry that might be brought in departure, but also the joy of possibility and excitement for the future.
Clemency B.: Benjamin Beckmann, one of the extraordinary eloquent young teenage composers in the apprentice program this summer with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA. Beckmann is also playing an offstage trumpet in the upcoming Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss, which is taking place in the second half of this program from Carnegie Hall live.
Jeff Spurgeon: During his rehearsals with the orchestra Maestro Antonio Pappano spent a lot of time with the musicians talking about what these pieces mean and he particularly likes the Alpine Symphony for what it represents for young players at this time in their lives.
Antonio Pappano: In the Alpine Symphony of Richard Strauss is very much a pictorial piece, but it's much more than that. It's not just to climb the mountain and come back down, it's alive. It's a story of life and all kinds of obstacles that one faces in one's life and to understand that. So in other words that creates conflict, there's resolution, there's hope, there's love, there's the beauty of nature, there's how your life changes when you've seen a summit and you've seen something so supremely magical that marks you forever. Those are the kinds of things that I want to talk about. I really talk to them and force them to think about what it is they're playing.
Antonio Pappano: Then there's all the technical work, how to solve musical problems with a technical solution or the opposite. How to solve a technical solution with a musical solution and working on sound and how to get the different kinds of sound, get variety in what they do, the dynamics, all those things. Somebody has to push them to do that. So I've decided that that person is me this time around.
Clemency B.: Those lucky, lucky members of the NYO USA to be pushed by such a Maestro. Oboist Oliver Talukder is one of the members who received, let's call it some pushing from Pappano.
Oliver Talukder: One of my favorite parts is the, when we're in the off their arm, where there are cows and there are sheep and there's this really fun part and some of the woodwind parts where we're cows and he goes [singing 00:26:26], and it's sometimes really funny to see Maestro Pappano give us critiques on cow impersonations, like you need to be more... singing like cow. So it's really funny sometimes and it's great.
Jeff Spurgeon: There were other animals in the Alpine Symphony, clarinetist Anoush Pogossian told us about the one that she plays in this work.
Anoush P.: My favorite part has to be, the calm before the storm section, it's a very mysterious, a feel real background going on and you have these little peeps from the different woodwinds and all of a sudden I get to play this very frightened and very spur of the moment bird that's warning everyone the storm is coming. So that's definitely one of my favorite characters.
Jeff Spurgeon: Clarinetist, Anoush Pogossian talking about her role, one of them that she plays in the Alpine Symphony, which we are about to hear for the stage door here at Carnegie Hall has closed. The members of the National Youth Orchestra are out there and just waiting for two essential characters to appear. That would be the concert mistress. This time around it will be Cherry Hill, New Jersey, violinist, Faustina Housner who will give the tuning cue, and then Maestro Antonio Pappano.
Jeff Spurgeon: And then we're going to climb a mountain and come back down again in a space of about an hour in the final symphonic poem that Richard Strauss composed.
Clemency B.: In pretty spectacular fashion, he told rehearsal of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1915 that this was the piece in which he had finally learned to orchestrate. Nothing if not modest Richard Strauss.
Jeff Spurgeon: It is a remarkable journey that we're taking. It's not only a physical journey, Richard Strauss was a mountain climber, built a home in the Alps, in Bavaria, loved being there, but it's also an emotional journey.
Jeff Spurgeon: So the challenges of life are reflected in this music as well as the physical challenges. And it's all depicted in the music. So if you like the ideas, the concepts that Strauss throws into his music, you're going to get those here. But you're also going to get some literal pictures of sunrise, an entry into a forest. You're going to hear a waterfall, there are thickets and undergrowth through which our pilgrim, our character in this symphony will move.
Jeff Spurgeon: So we go up, we come... Oh, there's a big storm in the end, couldn't have a journey outside without a great storm and no composer would throw away that opportunity. And so it's an amazing journey and an enormous orchestra. All the resources of the National Youth Orchestra, a wind machine, a thunder machine, and a fabulous offstage brass section. A whole other story that just appears and disappears in the course of the performance, but we're going to have a group of musicians sitting right back where we are. Clemency and I don't know about you, I'm getting the heck out of their way. It's going to be 16 of them.
Clemency B.: Exactly. We keep being warned that we have to have earplugs at that point. You at home can enjoy it in all its offstage glory. You talked about life and death, Strauss inspired by the death of Mala as a catalyst to write this absolutely epic canvas, which seems more than a fitting tribute to that other great composer.
Clemency B.: Here is an orchestra storyteller, a musical storyteller of the very finest caliber indeed, Sir Antonio Pappano getting that rousing response from the audience here at Carnegie Hall live as he takes the podium to conduct Alpine Symphony, music by Richard Strauss from Carnegie Hall live.
Clemency B.: Sometimes described as a symphony that behaves like a tone poem, Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony performed by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America under the baton of Sir Antonio Pappano at Carnegie Hall live.
Clemency B.: An Epic description of a mountain climb and the outs, gradually reaching the peak and descending during a terrifying storm. That was an experience that Strauss himself, an avid mountain climber, had lived through, vividly depicted in music that still feels pretty revolutionary to this day I would say Jeff.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, it certainly encompasses all of the possibilities of the symphony orchestra and an enormous array of percussion to achieve those nature effects. And it requires the resources of, as we said, just everybody who's involved in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.
Jeff Spurgeon: So no wonder there was a huge eruption of applause at the conclusion of that performance. The orchestra asked to stand, Maestro Pappano off stage now, but headed back out and following him is a group of one, two, three, four, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 15.
Clemency B.: Still they keep on coming.
Jeff Spurgeon: 16 or 17 more musicians, the offstage orchestra that brought a great unusual interruption in the story of this mountain ascent and descent, sort of the band that appears and disappears. But my goodness, they made a powerful noise backstage offstage and that performance of Carnegie Hall and the audience should have a chance to see them. And so there they are now lining the entire stage of Carnegie Hall from left to right and taking about-
Clemency B.: It's not often that you'll see the stage absolutely crammed full, but they're almost 120 team musicians on the stage. They're representing 33 States from around this country in this extraordinary enterprise. Now in its seventh year, the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, they have going off on tour on their own adventures tomorrow around Europe and what a way to see them all here in New York city.
Jeff Spurgeon: They'd had a three week residency at the State University of New York, residents Purchase College North of the city the last three weeks after an audition process that began a year ago.
Jeff Spurgeon: Now, the 2020 edition of this orchestra is already planned and so if you know a young musician, who will be between the ages of 16 and 19 in the next year and would like to enjoy an experience just like the one these young people are having now, the website is Carnegiehall.org and there you can find all the information on how to audition to become a member of the National Youth Orchestra.
Jeff Spurgeon: Cheers and applause for various orchestral sections on soloist, just about every part of the orchestra gets a star turn in Strauss' Alpine Symphony. And so Maestro Pappano is pointing from section to section throughout the orchestra right now.
Clemency B.: He's an incredibly generous conductor and it's really wonderful to see him interacting with an orchestra such as this. He dedicates a lot of his own life to nurturing the next generation of musical talent and you really get the sense that he cares about these musicians as artists. This is not just doing goods to conduct a youth orchestra, he really is all about nurturing and cultivating that artistry and talent.
Clemency B.: He will be taking them to Berlin, to Hamburg, to Edinburgh plus the [inaudible 00:33:53] and Amsterdam for return performance and also back to London at the BBC Proms. I was lucky enough to be hosting that Proms debut a few years ago and that was another incredible occasion.
Clemency B.: And it's interesting, we talked about this a little bit before Jeff, that these are not just viewed as musicians they're seen really as ambassadors for the US as they go around the world. And when it comes to auditioning, it's not just about your musical ability and talents, the audition process also involves making videos to tell them a little bit more about themselves and also to write essay.
Clemency B.: They will be partaking in cultural exchange activities throughout their travels, including playing and meeting up with the other team musicians and various of those told cities. From the looks of it, it looks like they're going to have a lot of fun.
Jeff Spurgeon: It was very much the plan of the Clive Gillinson, the executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall that this would, in fact, not be just a musical experience with these young people, but a cultural exchange program.
Jeff Spurgeon: Maestro Pappano offstage for a moment, back on stage, clearly held in great affection by the members of this orchestra. Good thing too, they've got to get along for a few more performances on tour over the next interval.
Jeff Spurgeon: And Maestro Pappano is up on the podium once again. The audience here in Carnegie Hall is on its feet. The stage door opens again and off come now are brass musicians.
Jeff Spurgeon: You're listening to a broadcast of the National Youth Orchestra from Carnegie Hall live on classical New York 105.9FM at HD, WQXR at Newark and 90.3FM WQXW Ossining.
Jeff Spurgeon: Brass band and the conductor are off stage, but the orchestra is firmly in place in Carnegie Hall. And our concert master is in consultation with the conductor right now, they're both back on stage. I suspect we are going to get an on chord, Clemency.
Clemency B.: Let us hope so Jeff. I think the audience won't let them get away with anything less.
Jeff Spurgeon: I think you're right.
Antonio Pappano: They told me I almost forgot the on chords, excuse me.
Jeff Spurgeon: A solo note and a triumphant one on which to end this concert by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. Nimrod, Sir Antonio Pappano and about 120 young people ages 16 to 19 from across the United States concluding their first performance as the seventh edition of the National Youth Orchestra here at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: Clemency, is there a chance they'll play that for the audience at the Royal Albert Hall at the BBC Proms in a few days? That's going to bring the house down.
Clemency B.: You have to hope so. It's going to bring the house down slash raise the roof of the Royal Albert Hall, either way. I suspect the largely British audience at the Proms will go mad for that.
Clemency B.: You know Jeff, you and I spent a lot of our time almost having to defend the future of classical music. It's so often said that young people aren't interested in this art form and that audiences are not going to come from the next generation. Well, I think tonight it's a wonderful vindication of how wrong that statement is. I feel like the future of classical music and orchestral music and this art form has never been in safer hands. It's incredibly life-affirming and hopeful I think in a lot of notes.
Jeff Spurgeon: It is a hopeful experience every year and that's why we look forward so much to bringing you this concert from the NYO because these students have worked so hard to reach this position for nearly a year. And this is a representation of the United States of America.
Jeff Spurgeon: A youth orchestra like this was really made possible in a way by the internet. When Clive Gillinson, who is from the United Kingdom, came to be the executive director of Carnegie Hall, he wondered why there wasn't a National Youth Orchestra, but then he realized the reason was it was impossible to audition people from across the country. But the internet has made that experience possible.
Jeff Spurgeon: And so it is thanks to technology that this orchestra has come into being because through videos, not only their musical performances but their revelation of their own personalities, this orchestra is able to be sampled from all across the country. And so it is a new way to represent the United States and it's a great creation of Carnegie Hall and the Weill Music Institute that we have the National Youth Orchestra.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, the audience lights are up and the musicians are beginning to come off stage after an amazing evening of powerful musical imagery, literal imagery of nature and also emotional in Hector Berlioz's song cycle Les niut d'et'e and Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony.
Jeff Spurgeon: And we're so pleased that we're going to get a moment or two with Maestro Antonio Pappano. You look like you've been climbing a mountain or something. What's been going on with you?
Antonio Pappano: That's for sure.
Jeff Spurgeon: Congratulations on your performance. It occurred to me that you have to be a mountain climbing guide in this. Have you've ever done any of that sort of thing?
Antonio Pappano: Never in my entire life, but I can just imagine, I'm so scared of it that I have researched it but you'll never going to catch me on the top of a mountain ever.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, but we did. We caught you with 120 people in your care-
Antonio Pappano: Yes. I think it's an incredible... I think I heard you say it earlier that it's a life journey, isn't it? It's very spiritual somehow. When you see something extraordinary or mysterious like that at the top of the mountain, I think it changes you forever. And in fact, yes, you have one million different climaxes in the piece, but the most extraordinary moment as the oboe solo where you're at the top and the air is very thin and you just... you almost stammer, you don't know what to say. And this is written... It's such a genius way of expressing that moment instead of all the pomp and circumstance, which happens too, victory of combination of a journey, but that moment is extraordinary and we have such an extraordinary oboist who plays it so beautifully.
Jeff Spurgeon: What's the assignment now for you as you take this orchestra through some major musical Capitals in Europe? What's the challenge ahead for the next five or six performances?
Antonio Pappano: Well, we also have on the docket Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony and we have a world premier of a piece by a young man called Tyson Davis, all that happens in Berlin our next stop.
Antonio Pappano: The most important thing of course is that you pray that these kids keep their stamina. For any orchestra, even the greatest orchestra in the world the, Alpine Symphony is perhaps the greatest challenge and full of traps and dangers and it's just can you pace yourself to get to the end? It's one of those things.
Clemency B.: They do have youth and energy on their side.
Antonio Pappano: They do have youth and energy. And also we've talked about it a lot, how to dose out the power because it's not such an easy thing to do because with all that energy of young people, of course they're going to blow it all in the first 20 pages.
Jeff Spurgeon: They'll spend themselves very quickly.
Antonio Pappano: And his 130 more. And that's the danger of the piece. But of course I said to them, everybody expects you to play loud, fast, with a lot of youthful exuberance, I says, I want to hear this special moments, I want to hear the romantic moments, the moments of serenity and also something accompanying Les nuit d'et'e which is so delicate, that's when I want to hear them develop even more to a greater degree. So that's the journey for me.
Clemency B.: Antonio, how do they respond to you because you of course conduct the greatest orchestras in the world, the greatest adult orchestras in the world. How have you found working with them?
Antonio Pappano: I won't spoon feed them, that's it. But I don't treat them like a youth orchestra at all, I treat him like a professional orchestra from the start because I don't think you can spoonfeed, they need to know what the real world is like and they need to know about what these pieces really mean because there's a high level of technical achievement, but they have to know what's the underbelly of these pieces, which are very disturbing sometimes.
Antonio Pappano: Both of these pieces, Alpine Symphony and the other Prokofiev 5, 1944, there's 1915, they're wartime pieces, there's all that stuff. The struggle, conflict, disaster, death, it's a terrible thing. I don't want to exaggerate, the rehearsals are not funeral all right, but you have to get into their stomach somehow.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's a life lesson just like the Alpine Symphony.
Antonio Pappano: Of course it is.
Jeff Spurgeon: You've had assistance in this work from some really fine orchestra players from orchestras all across the United States. Have you worked with those coaches or do you just turn them loose on the sections? How does that work?
Antonio Pappano: No. I have to be honest with you, I don't even know who they are. But they've done a fantastic job and it's a lot of players and to prepare them for something like this, my goodness.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah. A couple of dozen great players, principal players and orchestras around the country-
Antonio Pappano: Whoever you are, thank you so much.
Clemency B.: You spend a lot of your life in an orchestra pit and in an opera house, and you're always engaged in theatrical narrative and drama and storytelling. How does that have a bearing on a symphonic work like tonight? Do you think of it as a sort of piece of narrative drama? Or [crosstalk 00:44:36].
Antonio Pappano: Well, of course it is. Strauss was a great opera composer and the telling of the story, very personal and also universal. It's a very, very strong allegory, metaphor, whatever you want to call it. That going up and seeing God may be, I mean, call it what you will or finding yourself somehow. The mystery of it is enormous.
Antonio Pappano: But I'm very clear and I've said to them that... if I didn't say it 10 times, I said, "Listen, I'm an opera conductor." And I said, "If you're not telling me the story, I can hear it immediately. So don't just play me the notes, I'm not interested. Play me the, you know."
Jeff Spurgeon: Tell the story.
Antonio Pappano: Yeah. And so that's been good for them and I've been merciless about that.
Clemency B.: I can well believe that.
Jeff Spurgeon: They seem to have appreciated it and you'll be giving them some more of that merciless treatment over the next few days as you get on a plane and take this orchestra on a continuing adventure. They got some more mountains to climb. [crosstalk 00:45:46].
Antonio Pappano: Fantastic. Berlin and Edinburgh, Prom in London, Amsterdam and Hamburg, it's a fantastic tour. Good for them, this is such a great opportunity for them.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, and you're being a part of it too, and that's a wonderful thing. So we thank you for that contribution. Sir Antonio Pappano thank you for a wonderful evening of music, all you're doing with these young people from around the country, safe travels and great performances to you in Europe.
Antonio Pappano: Thank you very much.
Jeff Spurgeon: Thank you for being part of our broadcast. Carnegie Hall live from the Hall here with the National Youth Orchestra just about to head on out to Europe with a great tour in store for them and not only music that you heard tonight-
Clemency B.: Wearing that fabulous red pants and converse wherever they go.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's right.
Clemency B.: That's trademark outfit.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's been a thrill to bring you this concert broadcast once again this year. We hope we'll do it again in 2020.
Clemency B.: Thank you so much to all of the folks who made this broadcast possible. Clive Gillinson of course, and the staff of Carnegie Hall, WQXR recording engineers Ed Haber, George Wellington, Noriko Okabe and Duke Marcos. Manx Spine is our stage manager tonight and our digital producer is Gretta Rainbow with additional production help from Rosa Golan.
Jeff Spurgeon: And our production team, Christine Herskovitz, Matt Aramavitz and Eileen Delahanty. Carnegie Hall live is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, on the Web @arts.gov.
Clemency B.: Additional support for WQXR is provided in part by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.
Clemency B.: I'm Clemency Burton Hill.
Jeff Spurgeon: And I'm Jeff Spurgeon. We thank you so much for listening. This program is a production of WQXR in New York.