This past February, 109 of the country’s brightest young musicians received an email inviting them to participate in the 2016 National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA). In March, 78 young musicians were invited to participate in the first season of NYO2, a two-week intensive summer training program that runs in conjunction with NYO-USA.
Collectively, these 187 young musicians hail from 41 states and Puerto Rico. Each is a talented musician, but their many accomplishments aren’t limited to music: The orchestras include numerous National Merit Scholarship Finalists, varsity athletes, and community volunteers. Many are also considering careers in a wide range of fields that include medicine, engineering, and politics. The players also have a number of unexpected accomplishments off the stage, a few of which are highlighted below.
Ranked 16th in California for solving the Rubik’s Cube blindfolded Jonathan Chu, violin(NYO-USA)
A cultivator of unique and carnivorous plantsDavid Green, trumpet(NYO2)
Supertitle operator for opera workshops Simon Housner, cello(NYO-USA)
Maker of custom 3D-printed violins Akshay Dinakar, violin(NYO-USA)
Five-year Junior Olympic swimmer Allison Park, cello(NYO-USA)
ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award finalistSarrah Bushara, oboe(NYO-USA)
Four-year Junior Olympic fencer David Horak, violin(NYO-USA)
USTA Power Tumbling National ChampionKayla Cabrera, viola(NYO-USA)
Varsity dance team member Edwina Xiong, viola(NYO2)
Newspaper editor-in-chiefAlec Mawrence, tuba(NYO-USA)
Equestrian National Reserve ChampionEmma Shaw, horn(NYO-USA)
Published in the AACT’s Chemistry Solutions periodicalEvan Jose, percussion(NYO-USA)
Winner of four consecutive Science Olympiad State Championships Emma DeJarnette, viola(NYO-USA)
Top-10 shot-putter in South FloridaKevonna S. Shuford, viola(NYO-USA)
State and national competitor in racquetball Fumika Mizuno, violin(NYO-USA)
We are excited to introduce a collection of music playlists on Apple Music, becoming the first classical music venue worldwide to serve as an Apple Music curator. We invite listeners to explore a wide range of music throughout the year that are reflective of the Hall’s varied concert programming, celebrating renowned artists—past and present—who have appeared on the Hall’s illustrious three stages.
Among the first to be featured on our newly-launched curator page are selections from Sony Classical’s Great Moments at Carnegie Hall, an extraordinary collection of historic recordings spanning eight decades, just released in celebration of our 125th anniversary. Alongside these historical recordings, we also include an eclectic selection of music guest-curated by the pioneering Kronos Quartet—holder of Carnegie Hall’s Debs Creative Chair this season—featuring works performed by the quartet over the course of their four decades of appearances at the Hall.
We also preview on our Apple Music page major artist themes of our upcoming 2016-2017 season, which include a look at early music from the Venetian Republic, further explored in the Hall’s La Serenissima festival; a guide to works by Steve Reich, holder of the Debs Composer’s Chair; and an introduction to the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, looking ahead to the complete Bruckner symphony cycle to be performed by Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin.
Subscribers to Apple Music can now find and follow Carnegie Hall in the “Curators” section of Apple Music. Exclusive playlists will be added and updated on a regular basis, handpicked by Carnegie Hall artists and the Hall’s programming team.
Gino Francesconi, Director of Archives and the Rose Museum, talks about the phenomenal “Concert of the Century” recording in under 60 seconds. The live recording is one of 43 CDs available in Sony’s Great Moments at Carnegie Hall box set. The recording includes artists such as Leonard Bernstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, and ... well, let's let Gino tell you below!
Carnegie Hall turns 125 years old today! From the debut of the New York Philharmonic in 1892 to the debut of YouTube Symphony Orchestra in 2009, Carnegie Hall has been a place where history has been made for 125 years.
Watch the artists below wish us well and beyond!
There was a sold-out crowd at the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America’s (NYO-USA) concert at Carnegie Hall last July. By all accounts, the two-hour event was a resounding success. But what did it take to get the Hall ready? Here’s a rare look behind the scenes.
As the day begins, stagehands hang microphones, carefully position chairs and music stands, and roll out a glossy Steinway & Sons grand piano to center stage, where a piano tuner waits to inspect each string. Hall cleaners groom the iconic red carpet and seats that sweep Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage.
Elsewhere in the Hall, the video team meets to discuss the shots for the night’s live webcast on medici.tv. Camera angles are perfected with a cameraman positioned on the first tier. Along Seventh
Avenue, the buses carrying all 114 orchestra members arrive, dropping them off in front of six NYO-USA posters on the side of the building.
The stage is already set as NYO-USA musicians step out into the Hall for the very first time. Several bass players try to squeeze in one more sectional rehearsal, and the Hall erupts with dissonant fanfare as musicians warm up their fingers before conductor Charles Dutoit steps onto the podium to begin rehearsal.
Wonderstruck, many of these young musicians experience the Hall for the first time and can’t resist jumping up onto the podium to snap quick photos to share with family and friends.
As concert time approaches, ushers gather to discuss their stations for the evening while concertgoers pick up tickets from the box office. Once the house is open, everyone makes their way up the stairs before going in to find their seats.
Backstage the orchestra members are dressed and the instruments are tuned. Some musicians meditate quietly as others drill their scales among the pillars of instrument cases stacked along the walls. Minutes to showtime, the musicians board the elevator that will take them to the stage. While the lights dim and the Hall falls silent inside, outside the poster for that evening’s event is already being replaced with one for the next concert on the calendar.
The audience is still cheering as the orchestra exits the stage. Backstage is a buzz of celebration with hugs, happy tears, and flowers. Members of the orchestra line up to sign a card commemorating their Carnegie Hall debut. Maestro Dutoit steps to the side for a radio interview, offering his post-concert reflections. As the audience empties out of the Hall and musicians gradually exit out of the backstage door, stagehands clear the chairs and music stands, leaving Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage quiet once again. After all, who knows what tomorrow will bring?
This article first appeared in Carnegie Hall: 125 Years of an Iconic Music Venue’s Most Remarkable People and Memorable Events, available at carnegiehall.org/125th_Anniversary_Magazine.
All photos by Richard Termine
Did you know that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducted Carnegie Hall’s first opening night concert? A well-traveled artist, Tchaikovsky was excited about New York City and all it had to offer. To celebrate this iconic moment and Tchaikovsky’s many adventures, we have asked Link Up participants to show us where they would take Flat Tchaikovsky if he was a guest in their hometowns.
Victoria Wolfe, a Link Up teacher from PS 64 in Queens, wanted to see just how far Flat Tchaikovsky could go, so she started a Flat Tchaikovsky project with the help of her third grade class. We had the chance to speak to Victoria about the project.
First, 120 eight-year-olds, each armed with nothing more than a box of crayons, produced a whole lot of colorful renditions of the picture of Tchaikovsky in their Link Up: The Orchestra Rocks workbooks. Then, I asked my musician friends on social media if they would bring Flat Tchaikovsky around with them to their events and share photos with us. There were many volunteers for the mission!
As the pictures arrive, I add them to the Flat Tchaikovsky project bulletin board. I also post the photos on edmodo.com—a social media site specifically designed for safe use by students—so that my third graders can peruse them at home. I also project them on a Smart Board at school and use the pictures to generate discussions about the many different options available to people who want to work in the field of music.
I hoped that the Flat Tchaikovsky project would spiral out from the first group of musicians I contacted. The idea was—and still is—to show my third graders that anyone can live a life in music. There are participants who are devoted amateur adult musicians; high school band, orchestra, and chorus musicians; highly respected professionals; and people who work with musicians or in music but are not actually musicians themselves.
The third graders really enjoy seeing pictures of people from all over the world working in the arts, but it goes beyond their interest in new and unusual jobs. The idea that people care enough about them to take the time to dream up funny photos and write them notes captivates them on a much deeper level. And of course, there are questions. A LOT of questions.
Of course, I’m glad that the project is teaching them to address envelopes and put stamps in the right place. Those skills are at the basic level. I also hope it connects them to ideas about what they can do with their lives. I hope they see and understand that music can be a beautiful and profound way to recognize and celebrate E pluribus unum (Out of many, one).
Victoria Wolfe, a music teacher at PS 64 in Queens, sending out Flat Tchaikovsky all across the country.
A student at PS 64 in Queens poses with Flat Tchaikovsky.
Flat Tchaikovsky giving a hand to the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal tubist Gregory Fritze.
Mezzo soprano Abigail Levis admires Flat Tchaikovsky’s sparkling wit as he entertains her in her dressing room during a rehearsal for her role as L’enfant in L’enfant et les sortilèges.
Flat Tchaikovsky inspects the instrument case of Orpheus Chamber Orchestraviolist Nardo Poy while he takes a break from practicing.
Flat Tchaikovsky helps timpanist Don Larsen tune up for theLong Island Choral Society’s performance of Haydn’s The Creation.
Flat Tchaikovsky amuses his friend, Alexander Knutrud, by examining the bell of his trombone.
Flat Tchaikovsky makes sure the bassoons and contrabassoons are ready forHaydn’s The Creation with the Long Island Choral Society.
Flat Tchaikovsky with the Boston University Trombone Choir. The recording session is finished, and it’s only 1 AM! He is tired and will nap in someone’s instrument case.
Flat Tchaikovsky shows interest in the technical end of the music business,assisting recording engineer Patrick Keating with the Boston University Trombone Choir recording.
Link Up would love see what Flat Mozart and Flat Beethoven have been up to as well! Submit photos of their adventures in your hometown to Carnegie Hall’s Link Up Facebook Page, or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gala. Looking it up in a dictionary, we find the definition is “a social occasion with special entertainment or performances.” Carnegie Hall galas are certainly that: a gathering of a family of friends and supporters to hear performances for which the word special is something of an understatement. But a Carnegie Hall gala is somehow more than that. So let’s dig deeper. The word’s origins seem to lie in the early 17th century, referring to the showy dress worn at such events. Well, while that’s true, too, of course—stylish ball gowns or well-cut suits are invariably much in evidence—that’s not really the point of it. But this is more like it: The term seems to derive from the old French word gale, which means rejoicing. Yes, that’s it: rejoicing. For what better word summarizes the sheer sense of celebration, of people, of talent, of life-affirming and life-changing music-making, and of an organization that has for 125 years nurtured, supported, and made possible such art? Rejoicing: That’s the definition of a Carnegie Hall gala.
Pretty much since Carnegie Hall opened 125 years ago on May 5, 1891, galas have been a part of its history. There have, in fact, been 1,100 gala and benefit concerts. To mention a few: May 7, 1906, saw a benefit gala for victims of San Francisco’s earthquake. April 30, 1918, saw tenor Enrico Caruso and soprano Geraldine Farrar take to the stage for the Liberty Loan Rally, promoting the bonds being sold to help support the Allied efforts in World War I. Another war bond rally in 1943 similarly saw conductor Arturo Toscanini and pianist Vladimir Horowitz raise almost $11 million for Allied forces in World War II.
That January had also seen a gala to raise funds for infantile paralysis. More recently, Dec. 1, 1988, saw an event in support of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. On March 10, 1991, a gala was held to raise awareness of the destruction of the rainforests.
“Everyone who stands on Carnegie Hall’s main stage is participating in and creating American cultural history.”
There have also been a series of tributes to major artists from across genres: composer Moritz Moszkowski in 1921, violinist Leopold Auer in 1925, jazz legend Fats Waller in 1944, and singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie in 1968. Figures beyond the music world have been honored too, including, on Jan. 27, 1961, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That’s just a snapshot of the many ways that Carnegie
Hall’s stage has been used to reach out to wider society, both musical and beyond. And it’s worth noting that in recent years, funds raised by Carnegie Hall galas have been used to benefit the organization’s social and educational programs. This forthcoming 125th anniversary gala stands in a tradition of galas that have marked milestones in Carnegie Hall’s own history.
The opening gala in 1891—boasting Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as conductor no less—started the trend. On Sept. 27, 1960, a gala opening night marked the Hall’s salvation from potential demolition. After the extensive renovation of the 1980s, Dec. 15, 1986, saw another gala reopening. Opening nights in general became regular gala events from Sept. 26, 1990, onward, while major anniversaries were celebrated, including the centenary on May 5, 1991, and on April 12, 2011, when James Taylor headlined one of the two events marking the 120th anniversary, the second being the next month with the New York Philharmonic on the Hall’s actual birthday.
Five years on, and James Taylor will again help lead the celebrations, joined by a number of fellow Artist Trustees, including sopranos Renée Fleming and Jessye Norman, retired vocalists Martina Arroyo and Marilyn Horne, pianists Emanuel Ax and Lang Lang, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The title of Artist Trustee reflects the deep bond that exists between so many of today’s leading musicians and this iconic venue. Each one is an artist with a significant relationship to the Hall, and furthermore is an artist who both embodies and represents aspects of the Hall’s overall mission. This bond, and the place the Hall plays in an artist’s life, are neatly encapsulated by Renée Fleming: “Everyone who stands on Carnegie Hall’s main stage is participating in and creating American cultural history. Since making my own Hall debut in 1991, I have never been less than awestruck on that stage, thinking about its history, its beauty, and what it stands for. I have performed there with musicians ranging from Luciano Pavarotti and the New York Philharmonic to Sting. The architectural beauty and extraordinary acoustics always make me feel that I am singing for friends in a warm, inviting environment.”
For Emanuel Ax, Carnegie Hall “has always been the place where the dream of great music-making becomes reality.” Ax first played on the Hall’s stage at age 12, invited by an orchestra manager after everyone else had left an afternoon rehearsal to try out the piano; he vividly remembers gazing for the first time out at “that amazing, vast expanse of seats.” But while Ax went on to become one of the Hall’s most significant and beloved performers of today, he is just as aware of how special it feels to be looking in the other direction, out from the seats and toward the music-making. “For me, it is simply the place where I heard the music that molded me and where I had so many life-changing evenings,” he recalls. On May 5, 2016, Ax, Fleming, and their fellow artists will be channeling that passion—and gratitude—for Carnegie Hall into an event that will no doubt earn its own worthy place among the illustrious chronology of previously mentioned concerts.
But let’s conclude by returning 125 years to that first, opening-night concert and to the recollections of not just one of Carnegie Hall’s great musicians, but one of all history’s great musicians. In his diary, after the 1891 opening, Tchaikovsky wrote of the welcome the Carnegie Hall audience gave him: “the enthusiasm was such as I never succeeded in arousing, even in Russia. In a word, it was evidence that I had really pleased the Americans.” It’s the spirit and atmosphere that Tchaikovsky observed then that has gone on to define Carnegie Hall galas ever since. Rejoice indeed, for there is much to celebrate. And, no doubt, much more to come.
This season, Carnegie Hall celebrates 40 years of partnering with local community organizations to present free Neighborhood Concerts featuring outstanding main-stage artists as well as exciting rising stars of classical, jazz, and world music. These performances tap into the pulse of diverse communities across New York City and bring local residents together to share in the joy of music.
On May 7, Carnegie Hall presents a Neighborhood Concert with Viento de Agua at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island. We talked to Larry Anderson—Snug Harbor’s director of performing arts and production management—about the history of Snug Harbor, its relationship with Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concerts, and the best things to do in Staten Island.
Robert Richard Randall founded Sailors’ Snug Harbor as a “haven for aged, decrepit, and worn out sailors” with his benefactors’ bequest in 1801. Over the next century, Sailors’ Snug Harbor expanded from its original three buildings to 50 structures and 900 residents from every corner of the world. By the turn of the 20th century, Sailors’ Snug Harbor was the richest charitable institution in the US, as well as a self-sustaining community composed of a working farm, dairy, bakery, chapel, sanatorium, hospital, music hall, and cemetery.
When Sailors’ Snug Harbor moved off of Staten Island in the 1960s, the newly formed New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission stepped forward to save the five Greek Revival front buildings and the chapel and designated them New York City’s first landmark structures. Local activists and artists worked with elected officials to secure the unique property and its principal buildings for New York during the 1970s, with the objective of transforming the complex into a regional arts center. The newly formed Snug Harbor Cultural Center was incorporated in 1975.
In 2008, Snug Harbor Cultural Center was combined with the Staten Island Botanical Gardens to become Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. Today, Snug Harbor is a place where history, architecture, visual art, theater, dance, music, and environmental science come together to provide dynamic experiences for people of all ages. Consisting of 28 buildings, it is one of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in America, and is one of New York City’s most unique architectural complexes and historic landscapes. Its Music Hall is one of the oldest concert halls in New York City—second only to Carnegie Hall—and serves as the centerpiece for the performing arts.
Snug Harbor’s major buildings are representative of the changing architectural styles of the early 19th and 20th centuries. The first buildings were built in the Greek Revival style. As the complex expanded, new buildings were erected in the Beaux Arts, Renaissance Revival, Second Empire, and Italianate styles. High Victorian decorative components were added throughout the 83-acre site.
The Music Hall at Snug Harbor is the only music hall on Staten Island. It is just six months younger than Carnegie Hall! It was built as a space to entertain the sailors who lived here, providing them with vaudevillian performances and, later, films. We’ve featured local and international performers ranging from David Bowie to Norah Jones. The Music Hall is said to be haunted by the benevolent ghost of the mysterious Lady in White.
Photography by Stefan Cohen
Since our campus is so big, we offer a wide range of performances and artistic programming. The Music Hall generally features live theater, dance, and music performances. We also feature chamber ensembles and multimedia performances in our Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, which is a historic building on campus. We also feature family-friendly programs throughout the year.
Concerts have been taking place since 1892, when the Music Hall was built.
We’ve been collaborating with Neighborhood Concerts for 20 years. It’s a great partnership that allows our neighborhood to experience a wide range of high quality, accessible music performances that they wouldn’t otherwise have immediate access to. It’s one of the most consistent and exciting programs we’re involved with.
My favorite memory was meeting the mother of a six-year-old who came to see Emily Eagan. After talking to her I found out that her son knew all the words to Emily Eagan’s songs and begged his mother to bring him to see the concert. They drove all the way from eastern Pennsylvania just to see her, and got to meet her after the concert, which made his day.
Our campus has 83 acres of historic grounds, so that can be a whole day’s experience in itself. We are situated in Livingston on Staten Island’s historic North Shore, and we’re a short scenic bike ride, bus ride, or walk from the ferry. There are beautiful historic homes (some dating back to the late 19th century) in the area, as well as several local art galleries (Staten Island Arts, Creative Photographers Guild, and Art on the Terrace, to name a few). Of course, anyone looking to grab a bite to eat should check out Adobe Blues or Blue, which are both located within walking distance of Snug Harbor.
Throughout the spring, Ensemble ACJW has been presenting a series of three concerts at National Sawdust, one of New York City’s most cutting-edge new music venues. ACJW violin fellow Siwoo Kim reflects on the process of creating the program for “Turning Point,” the second concert in the series—taking place on May 3—which features Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony (in Webern’s small ensemble arrangement), as well as pieces influenced by his revolutionary ideas.
“Would this set of composers get along if they went out for a drink together?”
Ara Guzelimian, provost and dean of The Juilliard School, asked the ACJW fellows this question during a professional development seminar regarding the art of programming concerts. That idea (naturally) struck a chord with me, and I realized I have a deep interest in creative programming. No matter how good a single piece or a performance of a work is, context is most important.
As performers, we are responsible for the audience’s evening, so having a natural, dramatic arc in the choice and order of repertoire certainly helps. Violinist Itzhak Perlman once said to me that a recital program should be like a dinner menu—appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Does the entrée go well with white wine or red wine?
One of the coolest experiences we have as fellows of Ensemble ACJW is to curate three of our own hourlong concerts at National Sawdust. We broke up into teams of six to build the three programs.
“Turning Point” is our upcoming May 3 concert that I was involved in programming. The process was meticulous, but our team is proud and excited about the outcome.
Some fellows felt strongly about performing Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 (arranged by Anton Webern), so we chose it as the centerpiece (the steak!). We’re working hard to deliver a great performance of this epic masterpiece—a piece full of innovation while preserving late-Romantic philosophy.
We immediately started thinking of which composers’ works would offer variety while maintaining a through line. One such work is Toru Takemitsu’s Entre-temps for oboe and string quartet, which was written during a period during which Takemitsu—much like Schoenberg with the Chamber Symphony—was harkening back to the Romantic style of expression. Takemitsu told Pierre Boulez that this was his “Romantic” period.
This year, we grieved the loss of Pierre Boulez, a musical titan of the 20th century and a Schoenberg specialist. He was music director of the New York Philharmonic before moving to Paris to lead Ensemble intercontemporain. In November, Ensemble ACJW had planned to perform Boulez’s Dérive 1 with Jean-Christophe Vervoitte of Ensemble intercontemporain in Paris; however, the tragic Paris attacks unfolded as the fellows were about to board the plane, so the trip was canceled. David Fulmer, who had helped the fellows prepare the music for the trip, will be conducting the work for our Sawdust concert on May 3. The performance of Dérive 1 in “Turning Point,” I like to think, is a tribute to Pierre Boulez and the victims in Paris.
The night before Pierre Boulez passed away, Ensemble ACJW was working with Matthias Pintscher on his string trio. He came to Carnegie Hall sporting a Boulez t-shirt (Matthias is his successor as director of Ensemble intercontemporain and the Lucerne Festival). I’ve personally been a big fan of Pintscher’s musical aesthetics ever since I played his music under his baton in the Juilliard Orchestra. Figura II / Frammento represents the elusive and colorful virtuosity I am fond of.
Ruth Crawford Seeger is the only American composer represented on this program. Her music is characterized by dissonant and American serial techniques. She was also influenced by Arnold Schoenberg when she met him in Germany. To complement Pintscher’s string quartet, we programmed the famous Andante movement of Crawford Seeger’s string quartet. Both pieces avert tonal centers in their own unique ways.
Technicalities aside, each of these five pieces will bustle with aesthetic individuality in a potent, hourlong concert. As performers, we are having an invigorating time understanding and connecting ourselves with the music. We can’t wait to share it with everyone! I think Pierre Boulez, Toru Takemitsu, Matthias Pintscher, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Arnold Schoenberg would have a great time if they got a drink together at National Sawdust—especially on May 3 at 7 PM!
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