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Now in its first year, Carnegie Hall’s PlayUSA provides grants and programmatic support to a range of instrumental music education projects across the country designed to reach low income and underserved students on a local level. In addition to financial resources and training, participating organizations have access to a larger network of professionals—including Carnegie Hall staff members—who share best practices in the music education field.

“In launching PlayUSA, we are partnering with organizations that are helping to address the need for more high-quality instrumental music instruction, serving students who normally do not have access to it,” says Sarah Johnson, director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “We not only want to support each program, but also create a robust community of organizations across the country focused on this work so we can learn from one another and make note of successes and milestones achieved in each PlayUSA location.”

"... we are partnering with organizations that are helping to address
the need for more high-quality instrumental music instruction,
serving students who normally do not have access to it."

Three projects have been selected for the inaugural year of PlayUSA, benefiting students in Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana.

The Tocando After School Music Program is the most recent education project of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. Tocando (“to play”) is designed to engage disconnected youth at elementary schools through intensive music instruction, academic tutoring, and nutritional snacks. Funding from PlayUSA supports the expansion of Tocando to a second location in El Paso, while also providing for teaching artists and professional development.

In Ohio, the Columbus All City Orchestra is the result of a long-term partnership between the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Columbus City Schools. PlayUSA has allowed the CSO to expand access to sustained, high-quality music instruction for underserved students through a pilot program that provides private lessons with CSO musicians. “It is our hope that by offering private lessons,” says CSO’s Director of Education Jeani Stahler, “we will be able to increase the number of students auditioning for and performing in our youth orchestra, ensuring that the ensemble is representative of our entire community.”

The third project selected for PlayUSA’s first year is Music for Life, an initiative of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) in which disadvantaged youth are offered the opportunity to study music intensively throughout the year in private and small-group settings with both LPO musicians and peers from the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestras. In addition to offsetting costs for music stands, books, and fees to engage artist mentors, PlayUSA provides instruments for students in the New Orleans area.

“These projects and organizations,” Johnson concludes, “are focused on providing sustained training and music education opportunities to a diverse group of talented and motivated students, placing musical instruments in the hands of young people with limited access.”

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Watch the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra perform an excerpt from Debussy’s La mer led by conductor Valery Gergiev. 

This performance was captured on February 26, 2016 in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage.

Watch more performance videos captured on Carnegie Hall stages.

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On Saturday, May 21, Carnegie Hall celebrates families by offering free interactive and fun musical activities in the Resnick Education Wing. Families can participate in songwriting workshops, explore a sound playground, join in on sing-alongs, and build instruments and play them in an ensemble. There will also be opportunities to take in professional performances in the marvelous Weill Music Room. 

Spring Family Day

Saturday, May 21 at 12 PM–4 PM
Doors open at 11:30 AM. RSVP is required.

Learn more about the day's activities.

Family Day blog 1   Family Day blog 2
Family Day blog 3   Family Day blog 4

Resnick Education Wing at Carnegie Hall
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James Jolly has always been fascinated by the marriage of music and tech. But, he argues, the past points to a future that is unlikely to be one composed by robots.

The year is 1815. You reach gingerly toward a piano and press middle C. The note rings out, filling the room before the sound decays and fades away. And that’s it. The year is 2015. You reach out toward the piano and press middle C. But already you are faced with a host of possibilities: Is the piano actually an acoustic instrument or a piece of electronic equipment that, if programmed, can sound like a piano? Do you want to record it? Do you want to broadcast it? Do you want to sample the sound? In short, the possibilities are endless. Avenues that even 40 years ago were closed to all but those with access to a serious electronics studio are now within anyone’s reach: All you need is a computer …

Technology has always played a major role in music, whether it’s the development of instruments with the introduction of new materials and techniques for construction or, later, the ability to simulate the sound of “real” instruments or the ability to create a whole new palette of “artificial” sounds. Even the very act of writing down the notes has moved on from the sheet of music paper to a program that does the job for you (and even creates the individual parts if your music is for a number of players).

Once upon a time, a composer would have to rely on the goodwill of friends to gain a reasonable idea of how the finished work might sound. With the arrival of MIDI technology in the early 1980s, the sound of many instruments playing together could be simply synthesized (albeit with a rather sterile result). Now, a composer can piece together an entire “symphonic” creation without the services of a single human player—and many composers have been creating extraordinary scores doing just that, or pretty close to it, for years (think Hans Zimmer and his movie scores from the turn of the millennium onward).

The irony, in the latter part of the 20th century, is that as the sheer expertise of players and the technical facility of musicians (like athletes) became ever more impressive, we stopped and looked backward. “How did the music sound when Bach or Mozart played it themselves?” was the question that energized a generation of interpreters from Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt via Christopher Hogwood and Sir John Eliot Gardiner to today’s young “period-instrument” practitioners. Making the old new became the watchword and, today, infuses music-making even when that spirit of re-discovery is not to the fore.

Can we predict what the future has in store for composers? Probably not, but what we can be sure of is that the need to express energizes the creative spirit. With the burning need to convey that message, the medium is sure to develop. As humans, we have a remarkable hunger for the new, and music is one field of creativity, utterly abstract, where machines simply can’t replace us: The human heart will always beat.

This article first appeared in Carnegie Hall: 125 Years of an Iconic Music Venue’s Most Remarkable People and Memorable Events, available at

Illustration by Daniel Mrgan

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I grew up loving classical music and had developed a passion for Vladimir Horowitz’s recordings. It was 1966 and I was 29 years old visiting in New York City when I read that Horowitz would be preforming at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, December 10 at 3 PM. Not realizing that tickets would be at a premium, I talked my friend into walking over to Carnegie Hall at 1:15 PM to buy ours. It was unbelievable. The lines were stretched for blocks. People had actually stayed all night to be assured of entry.

As I stood on the sidewalk in front of the entrance doors (looking forlorn and sad, I am sure) the doorman beckoned to me from the doorway. I walked up to him and he asked, “Why so sad, my dear?” I responded that I had my heart and soul all set for the Horowitz performance and had no idea that it would be sold out. “Stay right here,” the kind man said. “When the doors open, you will be the first one in for the standing-room–only section.”

It was true. I was at the concert of my lifetime all because of the doorman’s kindness. He could never have imagined what he did for me. Horowitz’s music was spellbinding and I had the opportunity of celebrating Carnegie Hall’s diamond jubilee with a lifetime memory.

—Clara Hunt

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Missed Saturday's live webcast of Yuja Wang's recital, or just want to watch it again? The free online replay of this webcast will be available for 90 days after the performance on Wang performed two Brahms ballades, Schumann's Kreisleriana, and Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata.

For more information about webcasts of Carnegie Hall concert presentations, visit


Additionally, listen to the live audio broadcast of this concert on WQXR, co-hosted by WNYC's John Schaefer and New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinetist Anthony McGill:


Saturday, May 14 | 8 PM
Yuja Wang


Yuja Wang, Piano


BRAHMS Ballade in D Minor, Op. 10, No. 1
BRAHMS Ballade in D Major, Op. 10, No. 2
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, Op. 16
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier"

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Did you know that pianist Van Cliburn was the first to win the quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition? How about he’s the only classical musician to have a ticket-tape parade in New York City in his honor? Watch Gino Francesconi talk about Van Cliburn’s accomplishments in under 60 seconds.

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Last July, 64 ensemble directors attended an intensive four-day Summer Music Educators Workshop at Carnegie Hall. Registration is now open for the second Summer Music Educators Workshop, which will take place from July 13 through July 16. We asked the teachers who participated in last year’s workshop to explain why they would encourage their colleagues to register for this year’s workshop, and this is what they said.

1   It inspired more confidence in me for entering the music classroom environment for the first time.
2   It helped me to foster a sense of curiosity that will enable my students to become lifelong learners.
3   It put me in a great position to see both my strengths and my challenges in the classroom.
4   I learned from fabulous faculty who are expert educators and (musicians).
5   I got to attend a performance at Carnegie Hall.
6   Observing open rehearsals gave me a chance to see the workshop concepts in action.
7   I was exposed to all different aspects of music teaching, not just the ones I thought applied to me.
8   I felt challenged to bring my best every day as a learner and a contributor.
9   I loved playing my instrument in a workshop session. It was so refreshing.
10   I needed rejuvenation and I got it.

Learn more and register for the Summer Music Educator’s Workshop.

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Since its inception in 2007, Ensemble ACJW has been a pioneer in the quest to broaden the definition of what a musician’s career can be in the 21st century. Designed around the pillars of artistry, education, advocacy, and entrepreneurship, the two-year fellowship supports a small collective of young professional musicians as they build careers as performers and teachers who use their talents and music to fully engage with and impact the communities in which they live and work.

Though participation in Ensemble ACJW has always afforded performances with innovative programming in high-profile venues (including Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School), as well as teaching artist residencies in partnership with New York City public schools, the entrepreneurship piece has evolved significantly. Fellows have benefited from rigorous and ongoing professional development in a wide range of areas, including teaching, audience engagement, and career development. Growing out of these professional development sessions is ACJW’s newly introduced Entrepreneurship Project, a formalized venture spanning the course of the fellowship that encourages fellows to connect their music making with their individual passions and post-ACJW career goals in a very real-life way.

The purpose of the Entrepreneurship Project, as described by Ensemble ACJW Director Amy Rhodes, is to “give fellows the tools, experiences and skills they will need to be able to shape and define their own career paths. Entrepreneurship is imperative in that context. We structure this part of the program in a way that is both aspirational and practical.”

Fellows spend the first year of the project hearing from several panels of inspiring musicians who have carved unique career paths, such as Jason Treuting of So Percussion, Paola Prestini of National Sawdust and VisionIntoArt, Camille Zamora of Sing for Hope, and Christopher Marianetti of Found Sound Nation. By the end of the year, the fellows each identify an entrepreneurship project to develop during their remaining time in Ensemble ACJW.

“We hope our fellows will bring these projects to fruition nationally and internationally, making a long-lasting impact on the field of music.”

The second year is devoted to the nuts and bolts of practical execution: Fellows learn about budgeting, fundraising, public relations, and marketing during professional development sessions with experts in each field, and also are paired with personal mentors who help refine their projects. At the culmination of the second year, fellows present a formal pitch to a panel (composed of staff from Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School), during which they introduce their projects, detail implementation, answer questions, and receive feedback—similar to a musically oriented Shark Tank.

After their ACJW fellowship is over, the fellows are encouraged to share, pursue, and implement their projects using the knowledge, resources, and connections attained over the course of the two years. Rhodes adds, “We hope our fellows will bring these projects to fruition nationally and internationally, making a long-lasting impact on the field of music. We know that the skills they develop in building these projects will continue to be useful as they move forward in their careers.”

Alexandria Le (ACJW)
Alexandria Le

Alexandria Le, a 2014 alumna of Ensemble ACJW, is a recent example of this goal realized. Her entrepreneurship project, the Las Vegas Wine and Music Festival, began as a seedling in her early 20s, but came to life during her time in the fellowship. “I began mulling over ideas on what kind of musical project would be culturally impactful for my hometown of Las Vegas,” she explains. “Intuitively, I knew the project would need to capture the city’s uniqueness for its success and viability. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City to join ACJW that the idea came to me: How about pairing wine with music? The idea was so attractive—it’s a fun and creative way of bringing culture that matches the city’s brand.”

Le says that the Entrepreneurship Project provided her with the step-by-step knowledge needed to put together a realistic business plan to present to funders and partners, as “it shed light on the inner workings of running a successful project and allowed us to hear from top experts from each field.” She continues: “The program approached it very systematically, and throughout the year we were given overviews of what to consider about starting and maintaining our project. In the end, when it came time to present our project in front of a panel in the boardroom of Carnegie Hall, it felt real to me. How often do we casually set goals or think of a great idea, but never follow through? It led to personal accountability.”

More broadly, Le’s experience as an Ensemble ACJW fellow has directly impacted her long-term goals of serving her community through music. “I am just so amazed at the level of work ACJW and [Carnegie Hall’s] Weill Music Institute does as a whole for the community,” she says. “Being sent into schools, correctional facilities, and rehabilitation centers made me think about how important this type of outreach is and absolutely inspired me to bring that sort of work out to Las Vegas.” The festival is taking a break for one season as Le expands her project into an umbrella non-profit organization called Notes with a Purpose, which includes her festival and piano institute, plus year-round educational and community initiatives in the Las Vegas area.

“It’s a tough road, driving your own entrepreneurship project—it’s hard to stop and smell the roses,” Le admits. “But when I do, I see that I’m doing the right things, and I owe much of that to Ensemble ACJW.”

—Dr. ToniMarie Marchioni is assistant professor of oboe at the University of Kentucky and was a member of Ensemble ACJW, 2010–2012.

The Academy—a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education

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Gino Francesconi, Director of Archives and the Rose Museum, talks about one of the most controversial concerts in orchestra history featuring pianist Glenn Gould and conductor Leonard Bernstein in a performance of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Are you team Glenn? Or, team Lenny?

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