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13-year-old cellist Sebastian Stöger from New York City appeared on Show 261 back in 2012. In conjunction with his performance on From the Top, Sebastian also received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, a $10,000 scholarship given to extraordinary young musicians with financial need.

Each recipient of the award is required to complete an arts leadership project, an outreach activity during which they use music to give back to their community. For Sebastian, this was an opportunity to explore teaching. With the guidance of his own teacher, Sebastian decided to coach and be a practice mentor for younger cello students at the Kaufman Center Special Music School, where he himself is also a student.

Watch his video below to see his journey towards becoming a true arts leader. With this kind of success and insight, we can’t wait to see what Sebastian does in the future.


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Under the lights of Calderwood Hall in Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for Show 285, one audience member sat gazing intently at each performer while moving a pencil over a page in her sketch book. At the end of the performance, we tracked her down to find out who she was and take a peek inside her sketchbook.

She turned out to be Carolyn Newberger, a local artist and musician, and here is what we found on her pages.

17-year-old cellist Georgia Bourderionnet from New Orleans, Louisiana, performing the first movement, Allegro, from Sonata in D Minor by Dmitri Shostakovich

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17-year-old guitarist David Steinhardt from Pittsford, New York, performing “Usher Waltz” by Nikita Koshkin (view a special music video of his playing here)

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15-year-old violinist Tristan Flores from Lexington, Massachusetts, performing Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Camille Saint-Saëns

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18-year-old pianist Phuong Nghi Pham from Dorchester, Massachusetts, performing the first movement, Grave – Doppio movimento from Sonata No. 2 in B-flat by Frédéric Chopin

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In addition to being an artist and musician, Carolyn is also a child psychologist, which inspires her study of what lies behind the subject. Her most recent showcase titled “Music Made Visible” took place this past spring at the Brookline Arts Center. For more information on Carolyn Newberger, visit www.carolynnewberger.com.

To find out when Show 285 will air again, check your local listings.


2 months ago | |
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There’s no better way to start off our new season than with news of From the Top alumni sweeping the global competition scene.

Back in July, pianist Hilda Huang, who appeared on Show 180, took first prize at the International Bach Competition in Leipzig, Germany.

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Hilda Huang, 2014 Leipzig International Bach Competition

Across Europe in Hungary, cellist Taeguk Mun, who first appeared on Show 174, took first prize at the Pablo Casals International Violincello Competition in Budapest.

Also in September, Sarah Rommel from Show 162 won Third Prize and the Kronberg Prize at the George Enescu International Cello Competition, and violinists Jinjoo Cho and Tessa Lark took home first and second prizes respectively in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. Coincidentally, both Jinjoo and Tessa first appeared together on Show 93!

Jinjoo Cho, Photo by Denis Kelly

Are you impressed yet? But wait, there’s more!

Continuing with superstar violinists in the month of September, William Hagen, who first appeared on Show 194, won second prize in the Fritz Kreisler International Violin Competition in Vienna, Austria.

More violin competitions continued throughout the fall. Violinist Francisco Garcia-Fullana, who appeared on Show 167, won first Prize in the Brahms International Violin Competition in Pörtschach, Austria.

Back in the US, pianist Cameron Williams from Show 268 won the high school division of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition. In addition, pianists William Hume from Show 256 and Christopher Richardson from Show 269 as well as vocalists Thomas West from Show 252 and Kresley Figueroa from Show 288 were winners in The American Prize Competition.

All of these successes prove not only that From the Top alums are masters of their crafts, but also that classical music is going strong, and the future is bright.

Are you an alum with a recent competition win to your name? We want to know about it! On social media, use the hashtag #fttalumni. You can also email Elizabeth Erenberg, Marketing & Communications Manager for Greater Boston, at eerenberg@fromthetop.org.


2 months ago | |
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Eric Goldberg

Eric Goldberg

Eric Goldberg, originally from the Chicago area, is an accomplished percussionist who not only performs, but also inspires others beyond the concert hall. He first appeared on From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley (Show #206) in Dallas, Texas. His most recent appearance on Show #271 in New Albany, Ohio, coincided with his receipt of the From the Top Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, a $10,000 scholarship given to extraordinary young musicians with financial need.

The outreach project associated with the Award led Eric on a journey of persistence and determination. Over five months, Eric reached out to many schools and summer programs to see if he could present a workshop for young children in the Chicago area. However, due to scheduling and communication difficulties, no possibilities presented themselves. Finding the right venue and time to do this project was proving very challenging, but Eric didn’t give up. Finally, after months of trying, Eric and his duo partner Shuya found a great place to do this workshop. Read about it in Eric’s own words:

On August 5, 2014, my duo partner and From the Top alum Shuya Gong and I gave a presentation and performance for a group of pre-K students in an art class at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. We created a series of interactive activities and games to teach the kids about tempo, dynamics, pitch, and playing with others. The goal of our project was to teach young kids about the basics of music, inspire them to take on an instrument, and let music become a large part of their lives.

We had originally planned to present for fourth or fifth grade students, but this location (which served younger kids), was the first to demonstrate interest in hosting us, and we were eager to take them up on it.

Believe it or not – preparing a presentation for toddlers is much more stressful than preparing one for a group of trained musicians! We had to be extremely enthusiastic to keep the kids engaged. We had to constantly be listening, thinking on our toes, and shaping the presentation based on how receptive and responsive the kids were. We also had to be cognizant of the way we spoke and the language we used, so that the kids would always be able to understand us. It was a challenge, but certainly one of the most fun and exciting musical experiences I have had.

My biggest fear was that the kids would not be excited or want to participate, but it was the exact opposite! When we asked kids to jump up on their feet or wave their hands in the air or shout, they were very eager to do it, and seemed like they were having a ton of fun.

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We were surprised at how much some of them already knew about music. When we talked about pitches, Shuya sang a high note and then a low note, and asked the kids what they heard. One shouted, “That’s an octave!”

They asked a lot of questions of us too – some were very good and relevant, and others were completely silly. One kid raised his hand and said, “Bats have large teeth!” Shuya and I had to keep from bursting out laughing. Kids really do say the darndest things.

The group seemed to particularly love our snare drums. It was hilarious to watch their reactions. When I demonstrated an open-closed-open roll (a drum roll that goes from very slow to super fast and then back down to slow), the kids jumped in their chairs, yelled, and covered their ears. Thankfully, it seemed that they were not actually disturbed; they were just goofing around and having fun. They also had the opportunity to try out the various percussion instruments after the presentation.

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After all we went through to be able to do this, I went into this experience being quite skeptical and not knowing what to expect. I did not anticipate it being as rewarding as it was.

Seeing how excited these kids were reminded Shuya and I of when we first discovered music. Although our time with these kids was brief, we hope that it could go far enough to inspire them to learn an instrument, and let music become as important and beautiful to them as it is now to us.

In my eyes, being an arts leader is using your skills and passion to reach new audiences, to teach, to inspire, and to play a role in keeping the arts alive and well. My experience with this presentation and other From the Top events has kept me thinking about ways that I can continue doing this.

Now a student at the Manhattan School of Music, Eric hopes to continue finding ways to share his music and stay involved with the community.

“Experiences like this keep me optimistic and excited for whatever I will do.” he says. “No matter where I end up, as long as music is a part of my life and I can use it to help make a difference in another person, I will be more than satisfied.”

We applaud Eric for his determination to accomplish his goal and for his ideas about arts leadership. His drive to make this project happen is as inspiring as it is impressive. In today’s world, Eric’s success story is a powerful example of what “taking it beyond the concert hall” really means.


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Andrew Moses

Andrew Moses

At just 14 years old, Andrew Moses’ virtuosic clarinet playing is exceeded only by his good heart. He first appeared on From the Top Show 273 in El Paso, Texas. In addition, he was a recipient of the From the Top Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, a $10,000 scholarship given to extraordinary young musicians with financial need. The outreach project associated with the Award allowed Andrew to help his community in a new way.

In 2013, the Westside Learning Zone, an after-school academic and youth mentoring program in Los Angeles, was struggling financially. In addition, it did not have a music component. Andrew saw this as an opportunity for arts leadership.

“I felt a desire to both share music with the kids, and also find a way to raise money for the program,” he said.

He split his time with this organization into two components. The first was creating and hosting a music education event, where he introduced music and clarinet to a group of kids, and the second was a performance.

“I distinctly remember seeing the kids’ honest hunger to explore this new world of art,” he said. “They were so receptive and passionate – really inspiring!”

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Andrew leading a music workshop for students at the Learning Zone

Andrew was surprised by their reaction to one particular part of the workshop:

“I had the students draw (using markers and crayons) what they felt when they heard Beethoven, and found the results to be pretty shocking. One young girl drew a thunderstorm, another drew fighting dinosaurs, and some simply scribbled different textures out of their emotional reaction to the piece. I realized that these kids want to express themselves through art; they just usually don’t have the means to do so. I hope this project gave them some tools to get started. I’m really inspired to do more!”

Andrew organized the workshop to take place at an earlier date than his performance in the hopes that students, their families, and Learning Zone volunteers and staff would be interested to attend. His tactic worked! Many people came to hear Andrew perform, some of whom were experiencing a live concert for the first time.

Andrew Moses AL Recital Photo 4

Andrew performing at his clarinet recital to benefit the Learning Zone

The proceeds of the performance went directly to the Learning Zone. Not only did the audience love Andrew’s performance, but they also raised $4,500 raised to help the program.

After the entire project was complete, Andrew reflected on his experience:

 “To me, being an arts leader means pouring out my gifts freely and selflessly, as I have received them. I want to do this with joy and passion with the hope of really inspiring those who listen.”

With talent and integrity like this, the future looks very bright for classical music and for the next generation of musicians.

Watch Andrew’s video about his outreach with the Learning Zone here:

 

To find out more about Andrew, visit his website, http://www.andrewmoses.com/

Newsflash! He was also recently awarded a Composer Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic!


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Sometimes the best music comes from a variety of influences. J.P. Redmond, from Yonkers, New York, is not only a pianist but also a composer. At only 14 years old, J.P. has proven to be a musician as accomplished as he is multi-talented.

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In addition to appearing on From the Top Show 274 in San Marcos, Texas, J.P. also received one of our Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Awards. For his associated outreach project, J.P. wanted to use his gifts to reach out to war veterans. He decided to do so through his passion for silent films.

“Old silent films are still enjoyable,” he said. “Many are hilarious comedies, and they should be preserved by showing them again with new music.”

J.P. realized that many veterans may have enjoyed watching these films growing up, and might enjoy seeing them again with a new score. The silent film he selected for his project was Buster Keaton’s “The Haunted House”. Not only did he compose a new score, but then also organized musicians and time in a recording studio.

Once the recording was complete, J.P. arranged for presentations of the film including a short talk and Q&A at Hastings on Hudson’s James Harmon Community Center as well as New York State Veteran’ Homes in Montrose, New York.

The piece was so well-done that it won a 2014 Morton Gould Young Composer Award.

Watch the video below to see J.P. in action in his community and to hear segments of  “The Haunted House Suite”. To watch the full film accompanied by J.P.’s score, visit http://jpredmond.instantencore.com.

This is what we call taking it beyond the concert hall!


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It’s that time again! The leaves are changing color, the air is getting crisper, and Boston’s young musicians are in the midst of another academic year. Lots of music is yet to be made, some in a formal concert hall, some out in our community. We find it’s the unexpected encounters with music that often have the most meaning.

If you live in Greater Boston and would like to introduce a child to a musical instrument for the first time, or see a talented From the Top arts leader perform up close, we have a great program for you! Young musicians from our Center for the Development of Arts Leaders will perform and present at the Boston Children’s Museum on selected Fridays at 6:00 PM and 6:30 PM. The two short programs will delight you and your kids, and be a perfect compliment to your museum experience.

We are excited for the second year of this partnership between From the Top and the Boston Children’s Museum! For From the Top’s arts leaders, it is one of the most meaningful ways to share their music with the community. For many of the children in the audience, it will be their first experience with live music or a musical instrument.

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Above: Cellist and From the Top alum Lev Mamuya performing last year at

the Boston Children’s Museum

“Collaborating with Boston Children’s Museum is a great way to help our young arts leaders share their music and passions,” said Linda Gerstle, From the Top’s Director of Education & Community Partnerships. “We hope that the kids and families at the Museum have fun, and that our musicians experience what it means to inspire a new audience.”

Join From the Top’s arts leaders at the Boston Children’s Museum on these dates this season: November 14, 2014, January 16, 2015, February 20, 2015, and April 17, 2015 at 6:00 PM and 6:30 PM. 

For additional information on the series and on the Boston Children’s Museum, visit www.BostonChildrensMuseum.org

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Over the last 10 years, From the Top and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation have worked hard to ensure that financial need does not keep extraordinary young people from realizing their dreams. More than $2 million in scholarships have been awarded to more than 200 young musicians through the From the Top Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. The two non-profit organizations (who also happen to be celebrating their 15th anniversaries) are marking this remarkable milestone with a special recording of NPR’s hit radio show, From the Top with host Christopher O’Riley, in Washington, DC, at the Lisner Auditorium on October 24.

As Harold Levy, Executive Director for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, explains, “Every time a gifted child is unable to realize his or her full potential because the family lacks the means for support, a little bit of the American dream dies.”

The $10,000 Young Artist Award helps musicians and their families bridge the gap in paying for instruments, private music lessons, and summer camp tuition. In addition, recipients perform on From the Top’s national radio show and receive arts leadership training, designed to inspire young musicians to use their gifts to improve their own communities. Each Young Artist also completes an arts leadership project in their home community and reports back to From the Top to document their progress.

While the Award provides a very tangible financial benefit, many of the recipients share that the award gives them something less concrete, but equally powerful: the encouragement to pursue their goals. 18-year-old soprano Olivia Cosio received the award in 2014. She said:

The Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award allowed me to reach goals that would have been otherwise unattainable. I was reminded that someone believed in my abilities and the abilities of many other young musicians.

On October 24, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will sponsor a special recording of From the Top, presented by Washington Performing Arts at GW Lisner Auditorium. This exciting concert recording will showcase and celebrate Young Artist Award recipients:

  • 8-year-old pianist Oscar Paz-Suaznabar from Alexandria, Virginia
  • 15-year-old violinist Kiarra Saito-Beckman from Bend, Oregon
  • 16-year-old flutist Taiga Ultan originally from New York City and currently studying at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.
  • Marcelina Suchocka, an alum of From the Top and a previous recipient of the Young Artist Award, will appear with her percussion ensemble, Excelsis.
  • The Washington Performing Arts’ Children of the Gospel choir, which is supported, in part, by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

The October 24 recording of From the Top is presented by Washington Performing Arts and sponsored by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. For tickets and information, visit http://www.washingtonperformingarts.org.


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On a cool, crisp November day last fall, as the leaves completed their yearly makeover of the New England hills, painting them in swaths of red and orange, a rainstorm was brewing INSIDE of Boston’s Symphony Hall.

Some of the area’s best musicians had gathered on stage of the historic music venue along with From the Top’s Music Director Tom Vignieri to record a very special piece of music. Tom’s hauntingly beautiful piece “There Will Come Soft Rains” was commissioned by the Columbus Children’s Choir and by Deborah Price and the Chamber Music Connection – a music program in Ohio that has had many performers featured on our NPR show.

“There Will Come Soft Rains” was written using the text of Sara Teasdale’s poem (by the same name and written during World War I) about nature reclaiming a world devastated by war. In the video below, you can see many From the Top alumni and staff members, and hear them create a rainstorm with their voices and instruments. Enjoy!

From the Top Staff
Michael Dahlberg, cello
Shea Mavros, soprano
Erin Nolan, viola
Wendy Perrotta, soprano
Claire Shepro, alto

From the Top Alumni
Claire Bourg, violin
Jonah Ellsworth, cello
Brian Hong, violin
Anna Lee, violin
Laura Liu, violin
Taeguk Mun, cello
Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, violin
Haruno Sato, violin
Amelia Sie, violin
Kiyoe Wellington, double bass


3 months ago | |
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We would like to think that if Beethoven arrived in the 21st century, hearing magically restored, he would see the performers on From the Top as a sign of the invigorated future for classical music, full of passion, humor, and music that defies labels. He’d see the music schools and programs that we visit around the country as we do, as pockets of concentrated energy surrounding classical music. For example, on our recent trip to the Aspen Music Festival and School, where hundreds of young musicians gather to learn and perform the music that they love so dearly, we imagined Beethoven strolling along past the quaint wooden practice rooms listening to the strains of piano, flute, violin and more filling the fresh mountain air. I have a hard time imagining in that setting that anyone would be concerned for the future of classical music.

Enter Here Comes Treble Productions, a documentary film crew that believes that there are many individuals and organizations out there doing great things to propel classical music forward. Their film, What Would Beethoven Do? shares the stories of people like Benjamin Zander, who is building the next generation of classical musicians in the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra; Eric Whitacre, who is bringing classical music into the digital age with his Virtual Youth Choir; Bobby McFerrin, who is challenging audiences with performances filled with fun and humor; and many more people who are doing amazing things with classical music.

The film so closely relates to what From the Top is interested in that we had to see what these guys were all about. They followed us around on our taping in Aspen and talked with some of the performers on our show, as well as our host, Christopher O’Riley, who is at the forefront of bringing classical music to new audiences. Here’s hoping we might help make the film that much better!

Check out their trailer below and let us know what you think Beethoven would do in the 21st century!

What Would Beethoven Do? | New Documentary Teaser from What Would Beethoven Do on Vimeo.


3 months ago | |
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