Jeff Spurgeon: In New York City, there are lots of ways to get to Carnegie Hall. A subway, a taxi ride, you can even walk down 57th Street. You have just found another way to get to America's most famous home for classical music. This is Carnegie Hall Live, the broadcast series that gives you a front row seat to concerts by some of the greatest artists in the world.
And you hear the performances exactly as they are happening. You are part of the audience sharing the experience of music making at Carnegie Hall. I'm Jeff Spurgeon. For a decade, Carnegie Hall has brought together some of the most talented young musicians from around the United States to be part of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.
That's the group of young musicians we are going to be hearing in just moments. A hefty program they brought with them. A world premiere by Valerie Coleman, a commission from Carnegie Hall. Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto with soloist Gil Shaham. And after intermission, Hector Berlioz's iconic Symphonie Fantastique.
And with us now is the man, this is all his fault, it's all his doing. Well, he had some help, of course, but the idea came from the Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, Clive Gillinson. Clive, it's always a pleasure to see you at this concert each year. It's always incredibly exciting. A group of 16 to 19 year olds from around the United States and, uh, and they're ready to go.
Uh, after tonight, they go around the country a little bit. How's it been this year, warming them up?
Clive Gillinson: Well, Jeff, firstly, great to see you again as well, and thank you for your involvement tonight, again. And, I mean, every single year, I think, all of us are astounded by how brilliant these young musicians are.
I mean, one of the things when you sit there and listen to them rehearse, you can shut your eyes, and you think you're listening to a great orchestra, a top orchestra. It's only when you open your eyes and you see 16 year-olds to 19 year-olds it's completely baffling.
Jeff Spurgeon: And this orchestra is not a group of musicians who are headed for musical studies at academies.
These are young people for whom music is an avocation, perhaps a very important one, but it's really not their main thing.
Clive Gillinson: Well, what we, one of the rules for us is that as soon as somebody becomes a full-time music student, they have to leave NYO. And so lots of these will become full time music students.
And we found about half go into music, about half do completely different things, become doctors, philosophers, scientists, whatever, but the fact is they're all equally talented. You can't, from listening to any one of them play, you don't know who will go into music and who won't.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's just, it's just wonderful. The conductor this year is Sir Andrew Davis, a colleague of yours, you as a former symphonic, uh, player. Um, so tell us about Andrew Davis and his involvement and his enthusiasm for this work.
Clive Gillinson: Well, Andrew is somebody we wanted to involve. What we tend to do is there's a lot of conductors we want to involve over the years, and we want a different conductor every year for NYO, to give them a very varied experience.
And so we'll always talk to the people we want, and talk to them, and they identify which year is going to be possible for them. And, I mean, the very first year was for Valery Gergiev, and I remember then it was only an idea. Um, but the interesting thing was, he thought it was so important that he originally told me he's not free.
Half an hour later the phone went. And he said, I've completely changed my family holiday, I've changed everything so I can do it.
Jeff Spurgeon: Wow.
Clive Gillinson: And this is how people feel about NYO. Um, you know, all the artists want to be involved. Gil Shaham, who's playing tonight.
Jeff Spurgeon: Third time with the orchestra.
Clive Gillinson: Third time. I mean, second time with the NYO and once with NYO2, the younger orchestra. And he loves it. And I think they all find it genuinely inspiring and invigorating to work with these kids.
Jeff Spurgeon: It is such a thrill to be here for this concert because you and, and we, who bring you these broadcasts see great orchestras from around the world. But there's something about the energy of the young people who are here. And so many of them are on stage for the first time at Carnegie Hall.
Clive Gillinson: Absolutely. For most, on this occasion, for most of them, it's their debut. Only 13 in the orchestra, actually, were in the orchestra last time, but 35 have come from NYO2, which is wonderful, which is the younger orchestra.
Jeff Spurgeon: So that's about half the orchestra. So about 50 kids are making an absolute debut here, um, uh, tonight. And it's very exciting. You need to get to your seat for this opening concert, so we'll talk to you more at intermission. Clive Gillinson, thank you so much. It's such a thrill every year. So we'll, we'll see you after a bit.
Clive Gillinson: Yeah. Jeff, thank you very much. See you later.
Jeff Spurgeon: Uh, Clive is the Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. And, uh, and he's going to his seat. And the house is not quite, uh, ready for the performance, but very close. The house lights are down. Sir Andrew Davis is here and just about ready to go on stage for this amazing work. And Sir Andrew Davis told us something about meeting these musicians and encountering them and all of the skills that they have brought with them for tonight's program.
Sir Andrew Davis: First of all, they were very well prepared, but the standard of playing is extraordinarily high. Quite extraordinary. They're very quick, they're tremendously committed, they obviously love it. And that feeling is just such a joy, and so it's been a real treat.
Jeff Spurgeon: And now on stage, the concertmaster for the first portion of this concert, Moshi Tang, violinist from Lyndhurst, Ohio, stepping out to get the NYO, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, tuned up for their Carnegie Hall performance and for the world premiere of a new composition.
This work by Valerie Coleman. The piece is called Giants of Light, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for this performance, for this ensemble. And, um, well, we'll talk to Valerie Coleman a little bit later, but we do know a little bit about this work that the NYO is about to play. It is a journey to New York in music, and a trip, in fact, to Carnegie Hall.
So, as these 105 or so young people have made their way to New York City through a course of auditions to be in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, Valerie Coleman is tracing a sort of musical journey through musical forms from around the United States. Um, and a hymn when they reach this great temple of music, Carnegie Hall.
So that's what we have to look forward to in Giants of Light, a piece commissioned for this very concert, and a work about to receive its world premiere at Carnegie Hall.
And now, walking on stage, Sir Andrew Davis. With that great young orchestra of 16- to 19-year-old players on stage at Carnegie Hall. He's asking them to stand. Lots of parents and friends and music lovers in the audience. And we're so glad to be bringing this concert to you parents and friends who couldn't come but are going to hear the NYO now from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC- Valerie Coleman: Giants of Light
Jeff Spurgeon: Giants of Light, a world premiere. A composition by Valerie Coleman written for this orchestra to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States. You've just heard them from Carnegie Hall Live, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, a group of 16- to 19-year-olds from all across the United States, chosen over time through auditions, and uh, we're going to hear from a couple of members of the orchestra before our next work.
Just watching the stage to see how things are proceeding. And, uh, and then we'll look forward to the second work on this program. Yes, there's going to be a few stage changes. The stagehands are out. A few musicians coming out. A few coming on. And we're getting ready for the Violin Concerto of Samuel Barber.
Our soloist in this work tonight is Gil Shaham, and as you heard Clive Gillinson say at the top of the program, this is the second time he's performed with the National Youth Orchestra. And, uh, so tonight we'll hear in the Barber Concerto, a work that he, Gil, that Gil appreciates very, very much.
Gil Shaham: It really has a very American sound to it. The violinist introduces this melody and sort of spins it and one bar flows into the next and it just keeps spinning, you know, like gold. The second movement's like heart breaking, similar to something like the famous Adagio for Strings. And then the last movement has a very jazzy, perpetual motion feel to it.
Jeff Spurgeon: Gil Shaham is, uh, as you hear, a favorite of, uh, of Carnegie Hall and their work with the National Youth Orchestra and, uh, uh, preeminent violinists around the world.
Juhee Kim: Good evening, everyone. My name is Juhee Kim, freshly turned 17 yesterday, and I am a violist from Palisades Park, New Jersey. Thank you.
Kyle Ryu: Hello, my name is Kyle Ryu, not so freshly turned 17 yesterday, and I'm a cellist from Fairfax, Virginia.
Juhee Kim: We wanted to thank everyone for being here tonight in this very special performance, especially here in Carnegie Hall. We are so excited to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of NYO-USA on a coast to coast tour this summer.
Kyle Ryu: The piece you just heard, Giants of Light, by Valerie Coleman, is commissioned by Carnegie Hall for this special anniversary. This giant work brings light to the excitement that young aspiring musicians like us feel when traveling to New York City and walking through those double doors onto this iconic stage. Its burst of energy with inserts of shimmering air and earth throughout the piece make it a perfect celebratory poem in commemoration of this event.
We had a blast learning it and we hope you had just as much enjoyment listening to it.
Juhee Kim: Joining us now for the Barber Violin Concerto is one of our long-time partners who joined us as a soloist in 2014 and in 2018, Gil Shaham, one of the foremost violinists of our time. It is such an honor to have him join us in this performance once more. We hope that you'll enjoy this wondrous piece filled with colorful drama, sensuous beauty, and exhilarating terror.
Kyle Ryu: Thank you again for coming to support NYO-USA tonight. We hope you enjoy the rest of the concert.
Jeff Spurgeon: And there you heard a couple of, uh, members of the orchestra, their feet pounding on the stage too. They are excited to be here. We should mention the apparel of the NYO. They are once again, as is tradition, dressed in bright red trousers with black tuxedo jackets with beautiful satin collars, black ties and white shirts.
And black and white Converse All Star sneakers for every single orchestra member on stage. And that does not exclude the soloist, Gil Shaham. Uh, this is his second appearance with the NYO. And, uh, and he told me just a moment ago that he did get a new pair of sneakers for this particular year's performances with the NYO.
That's Gil Shaham, just making sure his violin is in tune as the stagehands make certain that everyone who is, uh, needing to be on stage with all of his or her instrumental equipment is in the proper spot. And then that stage door will open back up, and we will have the second work on tonight's program: the Violin Concerto of Samuel Barber, which was written in 1939, written for one violinist who didn't like what was produced, turned it down, and it was given to another violinist. But, but the one who's playing it just walked out on the stage, Gil Shaham. Stopping to chat with a member or two of the orchestra, including our concert master for the first portion of this program, Moshi Tang.
And Sir Andrew Davis is on the podium now. And it's the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America with Gil Shaham and the Violin Concerto of Samuel Barber from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC- Barber - Violin Concerto, Op. 14
Jeff Spurgeon: The Violin Concerto of Samuel Barber. You've just heard it from Carnegie Hall Live in a performance by soloist Gil Shaham, conductor Sir Andrew Davis, and a bunch of teenagers who just got together a couple of weeks ago. The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. That applause for Gil Shaham.
Now Sir Andrew asks the orchestra to, uh, get on their feet. And they received very warm applause from this Carnegie Hall audience. Gil Shaham has played with the NYO before and he says the experience has richness that just goes way beyond the moment that we're all experiencing in this concert right now.
Gil Shaham: I think it's a wonderful experience for all of us here on stage, but I think it has an amazing kind of ripple effect when I travel. I meet people who were part of that orchestra, or who attended one of those concerts, or who were there. This is really a way of bringing our musical community together.
Jeff Spurgeon: Back on stage for more applause, Sir Andrew Davis and Gil Shaham. That little cheer was the orchestra to Gil, who has been signing violin cases all week at the rehearsal space at Purchase College. He's just been a sensation as you well might imagine. Such a genial musician is Gil on stage and certainly off stage as well.
Really wonderful musical citizen. Second time up with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. Playing the Barber Violin Concerto. And with that we've reached intermission of this Carnegie Hall concert. But there's a great deal more to come. Good lord, there's a great deal more to come.
It's the Symphonie Fantastique. And even though it's intermission, Sir Andrew is shoving Gil back on stage for one more bow. I don't think they'll come to blows, but he's been persuaded to go back out once more. Gil told me he was very worried. He got a new pair of Converse All Stars for this concert and he was concerned about tripping on them, but he hasn't yet, so we'll hope he gets back off the stage safely.
Backstage at this concert, I'm Jeff Spurgeon. Clive Gillinson is alongside me, the artistic and executive director of Carnegie Hall, uh, with us, celebrating once again another incarnation of the National Youth Orchestra, this 10th anniversary ensemble. And also with us is the composer of Giants of Light, the piece that was given its world premiere at the top of this concert, Valerie Coleman. Congratulations, Ms. Coleman on that concert.
Whoops, we're getting, we're getting an encore from Gil. We'll get to Valerie Coleman too, don't worry. But Gil Shaham has been persuaded to play a little more for us.
Gil Shaham: In April of 2020, I was honored and happy to receive an email from composer Scott Wheeler. And Scott wrote to me, you know, pandemic was already on and all the concert halls were shuttered and we were all in lockdown. And Scott wrote to me, he said, Gil, I'm thinking of all my musician friends and how they are alone in their music rooms, in their practice rooms.
Jeff Spurgeon: And they're enjoying making music, but at the same time, They're missing playing with others and playing for others. And they miss their concerts and they miss their concertos. And the email had an attachment and the attachment was a brand new piece called the Isolation Rag for solo violin. Anyway, I really dig it.
I hope you like it too.
MUSIC- Scott Wheeler: Isolation Rag for Solo Violin
Jeff Spurgeon: Music for a violinist under lockdown, Scott Wheeler, Isolation Rag. Sent to violinist Gil Shaham by the composer in 2020. And played for you tonight by Gil Shaham, on the stage of Carnegie Hall in this broadcast from Carnegie Hall, live. An encore after that Barber Violin Concerto.
Gil offstage, but there'll be, there'll be, there'll be a little more applause. Before we, uh, release everyone to intermission with the Symphonie Fantastique yet to come in the second half of this program. 105 musicians gathered by audition from around the United States. Not only players in the orchestra, but a librarian, a couple of student composers are part of this ensemble as well.
It's a major enterprise by Carnegie Hall, this great NYO. And, so indeed, I think we'll pick up where we left off before we were so rudely interrupted by that amazing violin encore. Uh, as we have a conversation with the Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, um, Clive Gillinson is with us, and so is Valerie Coleman, the composer of the work that began this, uh, this concert.
But Clive, let's talk about the impetus for the National Youth Orchestra. It was your own youth, in fact.
Clive Gillinson: It was, which is a fair time ago. But to be honest, however long ago it is, it still remains one of the greatest experiences of my life. I joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain when I was 16.
I was in there for three years. And, you know, we worked with some wonderful conductors. But the most inspiring thing is working with the most extraordinary young players in the country. And most people, I mean, like I, I mean, I'd worked with a, a second-rate school orchestra. Right. And suddenly you're playing with these astonishing players who are all better than you.
And it is so thrilling. And you all lift each other. Everybody inspires each other. And you become friends for life. But it also creates a different view about your own life. I ended up feeling, I couldn't imagine life without music at the center of it, after I'd been in the National Youth Orchestra.
Jeff Spurgeon: The article that is in the Carnegie Hall playbill for this concert starts out with a wonderful quotation by one of the players who said that the National Youth Orchestra is the closest thing you'll ever get to attending Hogwarts in real life.
And that, I think, is a real sentiment, and another alumna of the orchestra was quoted as saying that, that before the NYO experience, the music was all about me and how good I am and after NYO, it was about how good we are. It changed this young person's view entirely. The orientation suddenly became toward community.
So, there was a youth orchestra experience for you in Great Britain but when you came to Carnegie Hall, there wasn't one here and you were determined to fix that. And you got some help. Technology helped.
Clive Gillinson: Indeed. I mean, in America, it would have been almost impossible without being able to audition online and, um, because it's such a vast country.
Uh, in Britain, the person who ran it used to travel all around the country and do auditions all around the country. That would have taken about five years. So, in fact, technology made it possible.
Jeff Spurgeon: Right.
Clive Gillinson: But, I mean, frankly, I couldn't believe it because the standards are so incredibly high in the States. I couldn't believe nobody had created this.
And it just had to exist. And the interesting thing is, I remember when there was one trustee, I spoke to, most trustees love the idea, but there was one trustee who said, I really don't understand why we're doing it, it seems like a crazy idea. The minute they came along and heard the first concert, they said, This is the greatest program we do.
So, that is what the effect is.
Jeff Spurgeon: That was ten years ago, it began with NYO, now there are two more ensembles, they've both been in existence, appearing annually for a couple of years. But we have a younger version of this National Youth Orchestra. This ensemble that we're hearing is of 16- to 19-year-olds. The NYO2 is for younger players.
Clive Gillinson: It's for 14- to 17-year-olds, and the reason we created it is we felt very strongly, I mean, of course standards are extraordinary in this country, but there's also a huge number of people with genuine, great talent, but who don't have the opportunities, whether they don't have access to best teaching or whatever the, whatever it is.
So we felt we had to create an orchestra which found people earlier on in their careers and really helped to nurture their talent. Um, and in fact there were some people, some of the problem is in people's own head. And there was one person who auditioned for NYO2, the younger one, orchestra, where they played and somebody said, but why hadn't you auditioned for National Youth Orchestra, you're so good.
They said, hadn't occurred to me I'd be good enough. And so you have, you know, there's a lot of issues people face. Um, but it's transformed it. What is wonderful this year, 35 people in the National Youth Orchestra have come from NYO2. And NYO2 genuinely is people who probably wouldn't have had a chance had we not created this opportunity.
Jeff Spurgeon: Another measure of success for this program. And then the third ensemble is NYO Jazz.
Clive Gillinson: That was part of our original concept. It's the same age bracket, and it travels the world in the same way as NYO. The younger orchestra is too young to do touring all around the world.
Jeff Spurgeon: Although they're going to the Dominican Republic this year.
Clive Gillinson: They are going to the Dominican Republic, but they'll be in one place, um, essentially. But NYO Jazz we always thought had to be part of this concept because it is America's art form. And it was really important to do that. And interestingly enough, it is in huge demand around the world. Everybody wants NYO Jazz as well.
Jeff Spurgeon: And you're traveling this year with Sean Jones, the musical director, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, the special guest.
Clive Gillinson: Yes.
Jeff Spurgeon: And you have a wonderful set of venues that the NYO Jazz Ensemble is visiting in Europe this year.
Clive Gillinson: Well, they end up going to all the greatest possible places you can imagine. They'll be in St. Moritz. They'll appear at the BBC Proms, which is in fact going to be televised. Um, they'll play at the Rheingau Festival, Wiesbaden, the Lucerne Festival, Amsterdam, and Berlin. So many of the greatest cities in Europe, and everybody wants to hear them.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's just, it's just, what a feather in your cap for you, Clive, and for Carnegie Hall, and for all these young musicians.
It's really a wonderful story. And in its 10th year, congratulations. That is a wonderful segue to talk to Valerie Coleman for a minute, who's been standing patiently by. Congratulations on this work. How did the commission come to you for, for Giants of Light?
Valerie Coleman: Well, it came through an email.
Jeff Spurgeon: Seems to be a theme tonight.
Valerie Coleman: Yeah, uh, to celebrate the 10th anniversary, I was asked to write this work, and how could I turn that down, an organization that is a giant of light within its own walls, reaching out to the rest of the world. So, of course, not only did I feel it necessary to write that piece, but to name it Giants of Light.
Um, coincidentally, Giants of Light in title also refers to the students, uh, within NYO, because they are the leaders of tomorrow. This music world is so small. I like to look at it as a small town where everybody knows everyone one way or another. And so, um, knowing that these students, these are the best and brightest in the country, in the world, coming here, descending upon Carnegie Hall as an epicenter, um, to make music together, make those connections; They're going to be the principal players in orchestras, they're going to be the soloists, they're going to be the curators of chamber music festivals, and on and on so, um, that they are giants of light and so this piece is all about giving them a task to be the best that they can be, and be the best contributors to the world that they can be as well.
Jeff Spurgeon: Did you attend rehearsals, or is this the first time you've heard the piece tonight?
Valerie Coleman: Well, um, actually I came to the rehearsal today. For the first time.
Jeff Spurgeon: Did you choose to stay away? Was it a scheduling matter, or did you just...
Valerie Coleman: Yes, it was a scheduling matter. I teach at Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
And then went out to Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon for a little bit of a stretch. So I'm back in town a few days later. Here I am.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, what did you think of it hearing it? Did it turn out the way that you had presumed it would be? That you heard it in your head?
Valerie Coleman: Absolutely. What a gift and you know, these, these wonderful musicians. They are unapologetic in their virtuosity And so they brought it. Beautiful sounds, solos carry through oh so well, great rhythm over on the ensemble, great communication. And of course, you know, Sir Davis, he's just phenomenal. So, you know, it's natural that it all came together the way it did.
Jeff Spurgeon: I, I had a thought that you might be retrospectively jealous that you didn't get to be in the NYO. It wasn't in existence in time.
Valerie Coleman: You know what? You might be right about that because I was in a youth orchestra in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. And so, um, you know, the touring that we did was really regional but it was such a joy to be in an orchestra playing the classics, learning all about that, um, and playing in the principal flute chair. So that was really exciting. And it's always stuck with me. So this was a wonderful opportunity to really just channel all of that and really try to give, um, you know, the soloist, the section leaders solos that they can sink their teeth into.
Jeff Spurgeon: I have to believe that this piece is going to come back in subsequent years. It's written for this orchestra and, and offers all those opportunities and all of that beautiful sound.
Valerie Coleman: Thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: I suspect we'll hear it again. Congratulations, Valerie Coleman.
Valerie Coleman: Oh, thank you so much.
Jeff Spurgeon: On, uh, the world premiere of Giants of Light in this concert. This piece is going to be repeated as the NYO goes on tour around the United States. Thanks for being with us. Oh, and you were supposed to have... An onstage curtain call, and it just didn't quite work out, but for the record, it was going, it was supposed to happen, it just didn't quite, you didn't quite manage to get to the stage.
Valerie Coleman: That's alright, I'm taking my bow now.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's right, that's right. We're happy that you're doing it with us here at Carnegie Hall Live. And Clive, I know that you have things to do too, so thank you for the time, we'll see you at the end because we want to talk a little bit about, about what's ahead for these musicians and where they're all going, because they're going in lots of places, so we'll see you at the end of the show.
Clive Gillinson: Jeff, see you then. Thank you very much.
Jeff Spurgeon: Thank you. This is a broadcast from Carnegie Hall Live of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. Classical New York is 105.9 FM at HD, WQXR Newark, and 90. 3 FM, WQXW Ossining. Well, as we are in intermission at this concert, we thought we would spend a little more time, having heard from the executive director and the composer, perhaps we ought to spend some time with the musicians in the National Youth Orchestra.
Kevona Shuford: I'm Kevonna Shuford. I play viola. I was in NYO USA in 2016.
Tanner Tenyeri: I'm Tanner Tenieri. I'm a percussionist and I was in NYO 2015. NYO is a really unique experience for young musicians and I don't think there's really anything quite like it.
For me, it was my first sort of exposure to a really professionally run ensemble, and with real world class musicians, and faculty members, and conductors, and soloists. As a musician from Wisconsin, this just opened my eyes to a completely different world of music making that I didn't have any exposure to otherwise.
Kevona Shuford: For me, it kind of solidified, in a way, my presence and my voice within the music community. It showed me that I had a place to be in the music world and there are people like me and that was all very exciting for young 18-year-old me.
Tanner Tenyeri: It was my first time being a part of a professional ensemble where you would have a travel day, get to a new city, wake up the next morning, have a dress rehearsal, have a concert, do the same thing, you know, six times again.
Kevona Shuford: By night we were doing all these concerts. But by day, we had opportunities to see a lot of the city. We got these amazing canal tours, both in Copenhagen and in Amsterdam. It was really cool, unlike anything I had ever experienced before, because I had never been to Europe prior to being a part of NYO. We were in Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and we had just finished the program.
And you know, like, the hall's ringing, and it's exciting, and you feel the energy. And then the audience is clapping and it was the first time I had ever learned about like the European thing where they all like sync up and clap together, which indicates that they want to hear more and have an encore. It just felt like the world was so much more alive than beyond like what we were doing in our individual seats and what we were producing. It was kind of like a melding moment for me.
Tanner Tenyeri: You feel this kinship about having done this program and experienced very similar things. One of my closest friends did NYO for two years, but we didn't even go on the tour together. That was a kind of just point of departure for both of us to have a connection.
It's the community that the organization builds just from the experiences it offers to everyone.
Kevona Shuford: For me, especially, it kind of tore this veil or, or barrier or wall, whatever it was. It really eradicated that notion that classical music is this way and made it really accessible. It kind of allowed me to like dream bigger and strive for more.
Tanner Tenyeri: It continues to be a source of inspiration. The experiences that I had, I'm always going to carry them with me. It's just, it will always be inspiring to me to see NYO and what they're up to.
Jeff Spurgeon: A couple of alumni of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. Uh, Kevana Shuford and Tanner Tanyeri speaking about their memorable time in the NYO. Kevana right now is in a viola performance doctoral program. And Tanner begins a percussion section position with the Cleveland Orchestra later this year.
So you heard Clive say that it's turning out that about half of the members of the NYO go on to careers in music and about half do other great things in the world. But, uh, if you are a young person already in a music conservatory, even if you're age-wise eligible for this ensemble, if you've chosen your music track, then the NYO is not for you.
But for so many young people who don't know quite what they're going to do, but have enormous talent and have been able to share it, this is an amazing opportunity. And if you're listening now and thinking, I know somebody who might be interested in this ensemble, the Carnegie Hall website will be a place for you to learn all about how to audition to become a member of NYO, NYO2, or the National Youth Orchestra Jazz Ensemble.
Now, uh, having heard from some alumni over the last decade, let's hear now from a few of the members of tonight's ensemble. We asked them to tell us what they thought made NYO such an important experience for them.
C.J. Butera: My name is C.J. Butera, I am 17 years old, I play symphony and percussion, and I am from Missouri City, Texas.
Sophie Deng: My name is Sophie Deng, I'm 16 years old, I play the cello, and I'm from Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Diogo Muggiati-Feldman: My name is Diogo Muggiati-Feldman, I'm 16 years old, I play the trumpet, and I'm from New York, New York.
C.J. Butera: I just feel like getting out of Missouri City from my high school and just getting to play with musicians with the same motivation and commitment as I do with music is just a really good opportunity for me to enjoy myself rather than being the best player at my high school.
Sophie Deng: Coming here always gives me a new perspective on myself and my playing and I'm always able to find myself extremely motivated by everyone around me. It really pushes me to see my true potential.
Diogo Muggiati-Feldman: The other aspect of being here that's so cool is, you know, the orchestra is like a living, breathing thing, but everyone in it is also, you know, living, breathing things, and you get to meet a lot of people, and you sort of learn to work with people better, especially with, like, the closeness of some of the rep, but also with, you know, the scale of some of the rep with balancing with each other, and that balancing in the music sort of also translates into balancing socially with other people, so it's been, it's been a great opportunity to sort of get to know more people, at a really fast pace.
Jeff Spurgeon: CJ, Sophie, Diogo. Three of the members of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. Uh, they're on stage tonight, playing. And they've all been part of this program multiple times. And, uh, that is one of the magical things about the way the National Youth Orchestra program has grown here at Carnegie Hall.
You have an opportunity to be in a couple of ensembles. The NYO2, 14- to 17-year-olds. And then, as Clive said, about 30 of them. are on stage tonight as members of the N. Y. O., uh, players of 16 to 19 years of age. It's a broadcast from Carnegie Hall Live tonight. The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America making their Carnegie Hall debut in this 10th anniversary edition before they head out on tour to Montreal and Nashville and Dallas and Jackson Hole and Stanford and San Diego in coming days.
Taking this program, the Barber Violin Concerto, Gil Shaham is playing it a couple of times. Hilary Hahn is joining the ensemble for a couple of the performances on this tour. More performances of Valerie Coleman's Giants of Light, and of the work that is going to take up the entire second half of this program, Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.
There are so many elements that make this piece exciting. The orchestra is large, uses all 100 plus members here. It was originally scored by Berlioz for 91 different instruments. And Berlioz originally wanted an orchestra of 220. Thankfully, for stage managers everywhere, he settled on a smaller number of 130.
It was such a large orchestra then that a caricature of the opening performance showed Berlioz conducting a cacophonous fleet of tubas and double basses and a cannon with the audience covering their ears and hiding under their seats. So on one hand you've got the size of the piece to contend with, but you've also got the story behind the music.
Symphonie Fantastique is a work in five movements that features two characters, the artist and his beloved. In the piece, the artist becomes smitten with the beloved, a woman who doesn't return his affections. And over the course of the piece, the artist is haunted by the thought of the beloved, and you'll hear that as a melody that keeps returning throughout this work.
Eventually the young man becomes so distraught that he takes a large dose of opium, and in his, ahem, fever dream, because we wouldn't use the words, while he was tripping, in a classical music radio broadcast, it would never be said that way... In his fever dream, he imagines his own death, under the blade of the guillotine, and his descent into hell in the two final moments.
So, it's a, a real romanticism work. We'll hear Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique in a moment. Uh, as the National Youth Orchestra is mostly on stage and tuning up as you hear. And we're ready to go with the Symphonie Fantastique.
And so, on stage now, the concertmaster for the second part of this program: Shannon Ma is a violinist from Saratoga, California. And she is the concertmaster for the Berlioz work tonight. So, five movements, a wild experience of Berlioz, whose music is, is crazy in the most wonderful way. Not everyone loved it. Mendelssohn said his orchestration's so dirty, I have to wash my hands after turning over the pages of the scores.
Really, Felix, so harsh. Schumann said there's much in his music that's insufferable, but also a great deal that is extremely intelligent and even full of genius. Well, the intelligence and the genius have been evident to audiences now for a very long time. And we keep returning to this work because of its greatness for the virtuosos within a symphony orchestra and for the grand and somewhat crazy scale of the story of a man obsessed with a woman, reflecting some of Berlioz's own experience.
Well, we're about to take that journey in music ourselves. The stage door is open. Sir Andrew Davis. On stage at Carnegie Hall. With a hundred young people ages 16 to 19 from across the United States ready to bring you Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America in its 10th anniversary edition.
A performance of Berlioz's work from Carnegie Hall Live.
MUSIC- Berlioz- Symphonie Fantastique
Jeff Spurgeon: A wild musical adventure. Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, a performance by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and you've just heard the performance from Carnegie Hall, live.
Sir Andrew, and the entire orchestra, on their feet. These young musicians who got together for the first time just a couple of weeks ago to work on this program, which we're now taking on tour across the United States. Ages 16 to 19. Hundred or so young people. All bedecked in, uh, the NYO trademark outfit: bright red trousers, white shirts, black ties, satin collared tuxedo jackets, and black and white, Converse All Star sneakers.
Now, Sir Andrew on stage, pointing out various sections of the orchestra for particular praise from this Carnegie Hall audience. A summertime audience at Carnegie Hall, when the hall is often quiet. But in these last ten years, one of these late weeks in July, we've enjoyed a performance by an amazing group of young people from around the United States, not yet committed professional musicians.
Some of them will become that. Many will not, but they are an extraordinary orchestra tonight here at Carnegie Hall.
Wonderful house of parents and friends and family from around the country. Not everyone could come who wanted to meet the musicians, see them play. But, we know that many of those friends and family are listening to this broadcast. We're so happy to share the music with you. It's happening right now on Carnegie Hall.
You know, it's the end of the program, but we're hoping, and you can hear the audience hinting, for a little more music.
So we'll see what happens. Sir Andrew is returning to the podium. This highly esteemed conductor, one of the UK's greatest conductors, and with a long and wonderful tenure in many American places, including Chicago. And yes, we're going to get that encore now from the National Youth Orchestra.
MUSIC- Hindemith - Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Weber: IV. Marsch
Jeff Spurgeon: And from the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, an encore, this Carnegie Hall concert conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Another march, not to the scaffold this time either, simply the last part of Paul Hindemith. It's Symphonic Metamorphosis on themes of Carl Maria von Weber. So we heard the fourth movement of that work from this amazing young orchestra of teenage musicians who have not played together very much at all.
A couple of weeks, yes, a couple of weeks, making their Carnegie Hall debut and many of these young people on this stage for the very first time, about 35 returning as former members of the NYO2. The, uh, National Youth Orchestra for younger players. And so this ensemble gains a little bit in strength year to year as well.
The 10th anniversary of this Carnegie Hall effort to offer to the United States and the world an ensemble of some of the finest teenage players in the country. Backstage at Carnegie Hall, I'm Jeff Spurgeon. And alongside with me is Clive Gillinson, the Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall.
You've, you've got to be having a little bit of um, of prideful father feeling every year after this concert, don't you, clive?
Clive Gillinson: Jeff, I'm always astounded by how good they are. And it seems as though it almost gets better every single year. I... But when you think how difficult some of this music is, I mean... It really is something for me to see.
It's one of the hardest pieces for any orchestra to play. So to hear them play it like this, it's astonishing. It really is.
Jeff Spurgeon: Right, right. And so now the orchestra, now they're going out into the world. And so we have a couple of weeks of tour.
Clive Gillinson: Touring around America, yes. Starting off here, and you know, then they'll be off to Canada.
They're playing in Montreal. Then Nashville, Dallas, um, onto Jackson Hole, Stanford, and finally San Diego. So they're really getting across the states. And then normally they go internationally, we feel every now and again, we have to show America. And it's a wonderful time to present America with something as positive as this ensemble.
Jeff Spurgeon: So, the young people, what do they have to do besides play? Are they, are they paying their way? Are they, transportation, accommodations, how does it work for these young people?
Clive Gillinson: Everything is free to them. I mean, they have to get here to New York, but even if, if they can't afford it, we will still help. Um, but otherwise they get here, but from the minute they arrive, everything is covered.
And we raise the money for all of that. So, you know, the lodging, the boardroom lodging, all the performances, the travel, hotels, every single thing is covered. And the two weeks of preparation in SUNY Purchase as well.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's a wonderful program of Carnegie Hall and another way that Carnegie Hall is truly America's concert hall. Uh, because through the Weill Music Institute that is part of Carnegie Hall, enormous education programs reach students across the country, across the entire country. Um, and uh, and then this enterprise offers a chance for, uh, really fine players to come together. It's a, it's a wonderful work, Clive, and congratulations on it once again, and to all of the people who support Carnegie Hall and this amazing, amazing...
Clive Gillinson: Well, thanks Jeff, thank you so much. But I think one of the things about Carnegie Hall. It is such an extraordinary institution. One has to use the power of this institution to change the world around us through music. And, I mean, yes, we reach 800,000 people across America through the education programs.
More than two million now online as well, on top of that. And it's getting more and more international, too. I mean, so we really feel it's our responsibility to do what we can to make sure everybody has access to great music. And this program is just part of that mission.
Jeff Spurgeon: We are so pleased here, uh, all of the broadcast staff at Carnegie Hall Live to be able to, to, uh, participate in this program as well.
So Clive, uh, you have to pack a bag. You're going to Europe soon with the NYO Jazz Ensemble. And we have to get out of the way for these young people to pack all their stuff up so they can go on tour themselves. Thank you so much for being part of this broadcast once again.
Clive Gillinson: Well, Jeff, thank you, and thank you for being such a great partner in this project as well.
Jeff Spurgeon: We do love it so much. Clive Gillinson, the Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, uh, with us for this very special broadcast by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States. You can hear around some of these players celebrating their Carnegie Hall concert. Sounds like a couple of reunions are happening, maybe with some old members.
And it's a wonderful note on which to wrap up this broadcast of Carnegie Hall Live. Our thanks to Clive Gillinson and the staff of Carnegie Hall. Uh, to WQXR's team of engineers, including Edward Haber, George Wellington, Irene Trudell, and Chase Culpon. Our production team, Lauren Purcell-Joyner and Laura Boyman.
Observational analysis by Noriko Okabe and Nick Jun. I'm Jeff Spurgeon. Carnegie Hall Live is a co-production of Carnegie Hall and WQXR in New York.