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.span-4 { display: none; } Director Danny Boyle in South Africa with Via Vyndal
Director Danny Boyle in South Africa with Via Vyndal, the pantsula dance crew specially selected to perform at Carnegie Hall.

On November 13, the Africa-based charity Dramatic Need and Carnegie Hall bring together an extraordinary all-star cast—including Daveed Diggs, Daniel Kaluuya, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, James McAvoy, Audra McDonald, Ewan McGregor, Sienna Miller, Javier Muñoz, Trevor Noah, Susan Sarandon, Charlize Theron, and Catherine Zeta-Jones—for a one-night-only theatrical performance of The Children’s Monologues, based on unforgettable stories of children growing up in Rammulotsi, a small rural township in the remote Free State province of South Africa.

Watch the making of The Children’s Monologues, staged in October 2015 in London.

Invited to describe a day that they will never forget, the monologues recount the personal stories of young people in their own words—sometimes harrowing, sometimes uplifting, and always moving. Adapted for the stage by some of the world’s most pre-eminent playwrights and directed by Academy Award–winning director Danny Boyle, the production gives audience members a powerful glimpse into a world in which children are forced to grapple with astonishing challenges.

It was these compelling stories that first inspired Boyle to bring The Children’s Monologues to the stage. “They capture some extraordinary moments in the lives of these kids. There is something so powerful about their words—the simple humanity of them—that creates an intimate connection between each actor and the audience, across thousands of miles, across continents, race, age, income, and gender. The effect is to transport all of us in the theater to the townships and into these children’s shoes. It is exactly what great theater should do: move you to see something so far away from your own experience as if it’s right up close.”

The Children’s Monologues comes to New York for the first time this fall, following two successful productions in London’s West End. As in London, Boyle’s signature directing style—intertwining sound, video, dance, and visual art—will help capture the audience’s imagination. Musical performances by leading artists will be interwoven throughout the evening, including appearances by Tony Award-winning Broadway star Cynthia Erivo, Grammy Award–winning vocalist–double bassist Esperanza Spalding and British rapper Little Simz. Energetic young dancers, personally selected by Boyle, will perform pantsula, a vibrant form of dance born in the streets of apartheid-era Johannesburg. Additionally, New York City teens, invited by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, will take part in this special production. Contributing to the visual design on stage will be striking images by sought-after artists from England, the US, and South Africa, extending the circle of creative talent from around the world collaborating on this event.

Harrowing, hopeful, wise, redemptive—an unforgettable evening of theater, music, and storytelling not to be missed.

The Children's Monologues
Monday, November 13 at 7:30 PM
The Children’s Monologues

One of the major theatrical events of the season, this dramatic performance features a starry cast of Oscar, Tony, and Emmy award-winning actors. Adapted for the stage by the world’s finest playwrights, The Children’s Monologues are based on the words of children growing up in rural and remote African townships. All proceeds from this one-night-only presentation go to jointly support Dramatic Need and Carnegie Hall.

Directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle

9 months ago |
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A more traditional representation of Orpheus and Eurydice. Painting of Orpheus and Eurydice by Edward Poynter (1862).  

This Saturday, soprano Barbara Hannigan and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome), conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, give the New York premiere of Salvatore Sciarrino’s 2014 work La nuova Euridice secondo Rilke (The New Eurydice According to Rilke).

Drawing on the ancient myth of Orpheus “rescuing” Eurydice from the Underworld, Sciarrino follows a long line of composers who have set this story to music.

Composer Salvatore Sciarrino. Photo by Luca Carrà.

But Sciarrino pushes this history aside, choosing instead to create a work that shows a “new” Eurydice based on the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke by combining two poems—Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes and To Music.

Who is this “new Eurydice” that Sciarrino imagines?

Based on Rilke’s poems, we can guess that she is actually a feminist.

Rilke’s poem Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes portrays Eurydice—ushered by Hermes—following Orpheus out of the Underworld. Bound by an oath, Orpheus must not turn around to see if Eurydice follows him.

In operatic retellings, Eurydice often sings to her beloved, becoming the siren that causes Orpheus to turn. But in Rilke’s imagination, however, Eurydice is silent, and her walk is “uncertain, gentle, and without impatience.”

While Orpheus strides forward in bold steps, Eurydice is self-possessed and unhurried. His confidence shrinks at Eurydice’s indifference, causing him to doubt himself, turn around, and sabotage his efforts.

Validating Orpheus’s fears, when Hermes delivers the message that “he has turned around,” Eurydice asks simply, “Who?” She turns and wanders back to the Underworld, just as “uncertain, gentle, and without impatience” as before.

So what’s with this indifferent Eurydice?

Rilke’s poem, published in 1904, appeared during the rise across Europe of the so-called New Woman, a first-wave feminist who cut her hair short, wore pants, rode her bike, and postponed marriage to pursue her own interests.

Reading into Sciarrino’s title, his “new” Eurydice, meandering at her own pace rather than dutifully following Orpheus, resembles the New Woman and her lukewarm feelings toward marriage. Sciarrino even chose this poem over Rilke’s more famous Sonnets to Orpheus because “Rilke doesn’t give Orpheus a face.” Instead Sciarrino focuses on Eurydice’s autonomy and the disruption it causes Orpheus when he is no longer being adored.

Of course a lot depends on how Sciarrino treats this text in his work. Will the soprano, Hannigan, embody an aimless Eurydice narrating her own story? Is she really so aimless, or does Sciarrino give her greater depth? We’ll just have to see.

But one thing is for sure, this Eurydice is no doting bride waiting to be rescued.

Sir Antonio Pappano, Barbara Hannigan
Leif Ove Andsnes
Saturday, October 21 at 8 PM
Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Tragedy and rapture are the essence of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. The storm-tossed finale’s three titanic hammer blows presaged personal tragedies in Mahler’s life, including his own mortal illness. Superstitious, he removed the third blow. But the symphony overflows with life-affirming joys as well, from peaceful memories of mountain pastures—listen for the cowbells—to the ecstatic portrait of his wife, Alma, that fills the first movement.

9 months ago |
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A new Google Cultural Institute exhibit honors the artistic community of men and visiting artists who compose and perform original music as part of an ongoing creative residency at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, now in its ninth year. This free online exhibit, highlighting Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, includes behind-the-scenes concert footage, photos, and original compositions written by men incarcerated at the facility. Daniel Levy, the lead teaching artist for the first four years of the program, reflects on the new resource.

Picture this: a family holiday, everybody feeling good, crowded together on the couch with a stack of photo albums, some old, some new. The pictures all have stories to tell, secrets to reveal, next steps to unfold. When I play through the new Google Cultural Exhibit on the Sing Sing program, my experience is a lot like looking though a family album on a virtual couch … but this album sings and moves—and the pictures are better.

The exhibit does a great job of hitting some high points and giving the visitor a true and accurate sense of how the program feels and functions. I was the lead teaching artist for the first four years of the program, so you can trust me on that. The men’s words and music and reflections are showcased and celebrated. It’s beautiful to see these materials made available to the widest possible audience. As it was, the work was rippling out into the world from behind the walls, to the men’s families or out into the larger community, but the online presence makes many more connections possible.

In the same way that a family album prompts us to remember and honor all the folks we see (and some we don’t see), this Google Cultural Institute exhibit makes me think of how many individuals have contributed to the success of this (ongoing, still evolving) program. Countless artists have brought the needed energy, expertise, artistry, and heart to innumerable exchanges with the men. Some were formal, others spontaneous. The cumulative effect of all these conversations on the incarcerated participants and visitors has been amazing to witness. It is safe to say that everyone involved with the program has been changed by their experience, as I certainly was. And we’ve all been changed for the better, judging by our own reflections and reports: better informed about the history and current state of incarceration and rehabilitation; more in tune with the lives behind the walls that too often remain hidden and forgotten; better practitioners of our art forms, more able to connect with our audiences; better listeners, leaders, and collaborators.

Even a great photo album can’t tell every story. Most of the best and most important moments are recorded only by our eyes and hearts, far from the camera (and cameras are not exactly welcome at Sing Sing…) The stories included in the exhibit are of course only a fraction of those that might have been shared. A possible remedy: If you ever have a chance to speak with any of the men who have re-entered the community, or with any of the artists who’ve been inside, buttonhole them about what they experienced at Sing Sing. Get more of the story behind the story. And until then, check out our new family album and see what you think.

10 months ago |
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On September 25 and 26, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) and the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN) will bring together more than 100 arts and justice leaders from across the US in Los Angeles for the second of three national Create Justice forums focused exclusively on arts and youth justice. Create Justice is designed to generate a national network of thought leaders dedicated to fostering creative strategies to work toward justice reform through opportunities in the arts. This new national initiative, which launched in March 2017 in New York City, will culminate at Carnegie Hall on March 11–13, when the network of participants work to finalize their set of national recommendations. The final forum will kick off on March 11 with a concert in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage that will feature young people performing music and art developed in justice settings as they share the stage with celebrated artists.

Teaching artists and young men at Los Angeles Juvenile Detention Camp Rockey site admire the mural they created in the Day Room. This mural is part of the Arts Integration Project, a partnership between the Los Angeles County Probation Department, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network. Photo by Cam Sanders.

At the second Create Justice forum held later this month in Los Angeles, policymakers, artists, funders, activists, researchers, and leaders from nonprofit organizations and government agencies will work together with young people to further refine collective ideas and priorities as they move toward crafting this national plan of action. The number of participants in the Create Justice forum continues to grow, generating a national movement grounded in the intersection of arts and youth justice reform. The forum continues to be led, in part, by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, chief of program and pedagogy at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Joseph is also a recipient of the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative and the US Artists Rockefeller Fellowship.

The Create Justice forum in September will be a landmark event, bringing participants to Los Angeles’s new youth detention facility—Campus Kilpatrick—and enabling them to explore the driving questions of the forum alongside youth who are directly impacted. It will also be an opportunity to understand and witness the innovative new “LA model,” which seeks to reform youth detention into a restorative, supportive model of care over corrections.

Simultaneously, Create Justice will hold a youth leadership workshop at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. Young leaders will convene to reflect on and articulate their own priorities in a youth-centered space. They will be supported by facilitators from AIYN members that include Street Poets, Inc., The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, Rhythm Arts Alliance, The Actors’ Gang, and Armory Center for the Arts, who are currently working with youth at Campus Kilpatrick and other juvenile detention facilities across Los Angeles County. The second day of the forum will bring together youth leaders, national stakeholders, and partners to facilitate a collective action plan.

“Create Justice brings together people with a variety of different perspectives who share a belief that the arts can be a tool in reform of the juvenile justice system ...”

A highlight of the forum will be a public pop-up exhibit at the Armory Center for the Arts on the night of Monday, September 25. Art pieces by renowned artists who include Ernesto Yerena, Yosi Sergant of TaskForce, and youth in communities and detention facilities from across the country will illuminate the ongoing conversations around youth justice reform, arts engagement, and cultural equity.

“These conversations are truly a unique process,” said Kaile Shilling, Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network’s executive director. “What’s exciting is that the whole series of forums are themselves modeling a process of collaboration—between emerging young leaders and those with years of expertise in the field, between artists and policymakers, between community and government agencies—that’s all grounded in the arts. The way participants are approaching this is itself part of the solution.”

“Create Justice brings together people with a variety of perspectives who share a belief that the arts can be a tool in reform of the juvenile justice system, and moving toward a more inclusive, restorative approach to juvenile justice,” said Sarah Johnson, director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “In the first forum, we heard powerfully the need for young people to be at the table with us in discussions about systems that will impact their lives and the lives of other young people across the country. Collaborative work with young people will therefore be a central part of the upcoming meetings in Los Angeles this fall, and in New York City in March. I’m looking forward to the development of important ideas and concepts from the first forum, and seeing how these begin to become concrete, actionable strategies for the future.”

Although youth incarceration rates have declined by almost 50% since 2003, the US still incarcerates more children than any other nation, with a youth incarceration rate that is five times that of the next highest country. Approximately 95% of youth have been detained or arrested for non-violent crimes, and time in the system can have lifelong negative consequences. There are 34,000 youth in juvenile prisons and 4,500 youth in adult prisons. An additional 20,000 youth are detained in away-from-home residential placement within the juvenile system. 7,200 youth are incarcerated for status offenses and probation violations actions that are not even considered crimes for adults. For statistics, visit Prison Policy Initiative for a full report.

For updates and program activity about the Create Justice initiative, visit and

10 months ago |
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Students in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, take part in Link Up, performing A Orquestra em Movimento (The Orchestra Moves)
with the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira last November at the Cidade das Artes. Photo by Cicero Rodrigues  

Donald Rosenberg takes a melodic journey, further than anyone had thought probable, with the Link Up program.

Link Up is Carnegie Hall’s longest-running education program. It was created to connect classrooms and orchestras in the New York area, but the program—for third- through fifth-graders—has reached out in notable ways in the last decade. During the 2017–2018 season, its 33rd, Link Up is teaming with more than 100 orchestras in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Kenya, and Spain, presenting 340 concerts, and reaching 400,000 students and teachers worldwide.

“The goals and intentions have always been the same,” says Joanna Massey, director of learning and engagement programs at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI): “to introduce students to basic musical concepts and link up the curriculum in their classroom and the concert hall with an interactive concert experience.”

WMI supports professional development training for partner orchestras who in turn enable teachers to instruct the youngsters in recorder—and, in some locations, strings—and singing before they attend the concert, an event at which the students both perform from their seats and listen.

“Instead of just one-time concert experiences, the teachers are spending more than three months preparing students for this culminating experience,” says Hillarie O’Toole, manager of WMI’s learning and engagement programs. “That creates much deeper relations between the teachers and the orchestras.”

Four Link Up programs are available that focus on specific musical areas: The Orchestra Sings (melody), The Orchestra Moves (the movement of musical motifs), The Orchestra Rocks (rhythmic pulse), and The Orchestra Swings (the intersection of jazz and classical). The orchestras are responsible for funding the Link Up activities, with assistance from local schools, foundations, and cultural institutions, while Carnegie Hall provides a wealth of support including free copies of student and teacher guides, concert scripts, visuals, and annotated scores.

“We’re in our second season,” says David Carter, principal clarinet and education director of the Tulsa Symphony in Oklahoma. “It’s been really positive here. We launched with a pilot program last year with a few schools in two districts for 1,200 students. We wanted to go to 5,000. We’re now at 12,000 students. It far exceeded our expectations. We’re now in five districts.”

Students head into the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for their Link Up concert with the Oregon Symphony in May 2016.
Photo courtesy of Oregon Symphony.  

In Mississippi, Link Up has been adopted by four professional orchestras: the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in Jackson, the Gulf Coast Symphony in Biloxi, the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, and the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in Tupelo. The activities involve some 7,000 students per year, most from cities, but also from rural areas where music education is sparse.

Thanks to Link Up, the string program in Tupelo schools has tripled in size since the North Mississippi Symphony began offering the interactive concerts. Elaine Maisel, Link Up coordinator for the Mississippi Arts Commission and a bassoonist in the Mississippi Symphony, says the atmosphere at Link Up concerts is electrifying for musicians and students alike.

“It’s really energetic and boisterous, and most of the students have never seen a symphony orchestra before, so the kids often are so overwhelmed at being there and seeing an orchestra for the first time that it sometimes takes some prompting for them to remember they’re performing,” says Maisel. “The last piece of music gets them up on their feet and dancing. The orchestra members are thrilled to hear a thousand kids playing recorders at the same time.”

Students at a Link Up concert presented by the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra in 2016 wait excitedly for the event to begin. After three years of Link Up in Flagstaff, there is increased registration in instrumental music instruction in schools. Photo by JB DeWitt.  

Mary L. Nebel, chair for educational engagement and Link Up for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra in Arizona, reports similar excitement. “It looks like chaos if you’re used to quiet concerts,” says Nebel, who plays cello in the orchestra. “But Carnegie Hall is not interested in having the old mold. There’s a time to be quiet and a time to participate. The kids cheer when things come on stage before the concert. They sing and play and clap and also sit quietly and listen and understand intuitively.”

The Flagstaff Symphony, near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, serves a diverse audience. The orchestra’s annual Link Up concert fills its 4,000-seat auditorium. Nebel says the intensive preparation in schools for the concert and the performance itself appear to have a marked impact on the students.

“Almost the very first question they ask in school is, ‘Are we going to Link Up this year?’” she says. “It has become an important thing in their lives. They’re learning songs in lunch lines or on bus trips. It really does change the students’ perception of the concert hall and concert experience, and they become more engaged in their musical learning. We know we’re seeing greater registration in instrumental music in schools after three years of Link Up.”

“The last piece of music gets them up on their feet and dancing. The orchestra members are thrilled to hear a thousand kids playing recorders at the same time.”

The first international Link Up program was offered in Oviedo, Spain, by the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias. The ensemble’s music director is Rossen Milanov, who leads Link Up concerts at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Ana Maria Mateo, the Spanish orchestra’s executive director, heard about Link Up through Milanov and traveled to Carnegie Hall to see a concert and meet with the staff from WMI.

The Link Up program, now in its 33rd year, is reaching students around the world. Here, the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias performs La Orquesta se Mueve, or The Orchestra Moves, in 2013 in Oviedo, Spain. Photo by Phil Bravo.  

“It was a time in which Link Up was also going to Canada and Japan,” says Mateo. “Guides were generously translated by Carnegie Hall into Spanish and there I took an active part, adapting, correcting, proposing. It was a pleasure to help in this way. Then the program was so successful here in Oviedo that some of our colleagues have implemented it in other Spanish orchestras.”

Link Up has also proved inspirational in Rio de Janeiro, where the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira received more than 100 applications from schools when the program was announced in February 2016. The orchestra chose 45 public and private schools in the region to participate and held two teacher workshops preceding the concerts, which have been rousing successes.

“The immediate impact can be measured in teachers’ testimonials of how their schools and parents got involved in the project,” says Anahi Ravagnani, educational manager of the orchestra’s foundation. “Their interest and support grew throughout the process, as well as their understanding of the program goals and its benefits for the children. Some teachers were also emphatic in pointing out how the kids have overcome technical challenges through hard work and dedication, which helped them to build a sense of confidence and self-esteem.

“The feeling of achievement was also noticed by the orchestra musicians, who received from the stage a large amount of energy, euphoria, and happiness.”

Donald Rosenberg’s original article originally appeared in Beyond the Stage: Stories from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, published by Faircount Media Group.

10 months ago |
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Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Workshop is transforming the lives of both teachers and students, writes Sarah Kirkup.

When Nate Sutton, a professional trombonist from Texas, first started teaching music in New York City, it wasn’t the positive experience he had hoped it would be. “It’s easy to feel isolated,” he says. “There are music teacher organizations out there, but they’re not easy to find, and a lot them are filled with broken, bitter teachers. I suppose that’s not surprising—we’re teaching in an urban environment, and it can be grueling.”

But three years ago, almost by accident, Sutton encountered the Weill Music Institute’s Music Educators Workshop—and he has never looked back. “It doesn’t focus on negativity,” he says. “No matter where people teach across New York City, we’re able to learn from each other and support each other. Being able to talk to someone else who does the same thing you do, and to learn from people who themselves are from a music education background, is invaluable.”

“I’ve never seen more motivated kids—there was such a sense of ownership.”

The Music Educators Workshop was launched during the 2013–2014 season as part of Carnegie Hall’s ongoing focus on students and teachers, producing a huge range of educational and social impact initiatives that extend far beyond the concert hall. Open to K-12 music teachers, up to 100 applicants can attend free monthly, interactive workshops with top music educators over the course of 10 months, and also attend concerts as guests of Carnegie Hall. In addition, in 2015, Carnegie Hall launched the Summer Music Educators Workshop, a four-day intensive session open to teachers from across the country which, in 2016, attracted 120 participants (this year, guest faculty includes conductor Marin Alsop and choreographer Twyla Tharp). All these activities take place in the Resnick Education Wing, which opened in 2014 and contains 24 ensemble and practice rooms. “The fact that Carnegie Hall has built an entire wing dedicated to music education shows how far-sighted its staff members are,” says Sutton. “They have our best interests at heart, because our best interests serve their best interests.”

Sutton has been a middle school teacher at a public school in Chinatown for eight years now, and credits the Music Educators Workshop for revolutionizing his teaching methods. “I’ve been able to make better lesson plans, think about creativity in a new way, and allow kids to work through their own natural creative desires without being afraid,” he says. Sutton has learned to take risks personally, too. “I’ve never felt called to be a composer,” he admits, “but during one workshop, composer Thomas Cabaniss made a marvelous case for exposing your students to composition. So last year I did a composing project with my eighth-grade band, and we ended up performing the piece in a concert. I’ve never seen more motivated kids—there was such a sense of ownership.”

For the 2016–2017 season, workshop participants had the additional option of specializing in one of three curriculum tracks; emboldened by his recent success, Sutton chose composition. “I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone,” he laughs. “I’m thinking about my craft in a new way because I’m being challenged to. The message of these workshops isn’t, ‘Here are some more survival skills, now go back in the trenches.’ We’re being given an opportunity to reimagine what we’re doing, absorb new ideas, and then take them back to our own classrooms.”

Sarah Kirkup’s original article originally appeared in Beyond the Stage: Stories from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, published by Faircount Media Group.

11 months ago |
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By Leah Hollingsworth

“The single most important person in my life when I was trying to become an architect was a craftsman—a carpenter—and there is only way to describe him: He was what he did. We didn’t talk very much, but he showed me things,” recalls Norton Juster, a retired architect and author of the bestselling children’s fantasy novel The Phantom Tollbooth. Another work of his, The Dot and the Line, is featured on a Carnegie Hall Family Concert this October. “I internalized those lessons,” Juster continues, “the care that he gave to his work, the way he crafted each part so meticulously—and the idea that I should only be satisfied with the very best work that I could do.”

As an author, Juster is also craftsman. Authors craft a story, carefully culling ideas and characters until they are satisfied with their final product. Composers are also craftspeople, curating sounds and sonorities until their piece tells precisely the story they want.

This season, Carnegie Hall brings together authors and composers to present a Family Concert that features musical retellings of three children’s stories: Juster’s The Dot and the Line, with music by Robert Xavier Rodriguez, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Alice McLerran’s The Mountain that Loved a Bird, with a Carnegie Hall commission by Caroline Shaw; and Peter and the Wolf, with visuals from a retelling of the story by Chris Raschka. For each, the full text is integrated into the music and narrated by John Lithgow.

But how does a composer craft the right music to tell someone else’s story?

Rodriguez and Juster have known each other for years, and have worked on several projects together, so a full orchestration of The Dot and the Line was a natural development in their creative relationship.

“The experience and pleasure of working with Robert is Robert himself—he is extraordinarily talented as a musician and also a wonderful guy,” Juster enthuses. “The fact that he was able to [turn my book into music] was not a surprise—but the fact that he did it so well, was simply a total delight.”

Robert Xavier Rodriguez, Caroline Shaw
Robert Xavier Rodriguez, Caroline Shaw

Rodriguez has written eight operas and considers himself to be primarily a theater composer. “Even in purely instrumental works, I enjoy writing music based on texts, stories, and/or visual images,” he says. “Juster’s writing is vivid, clear, wise, and glowingly funny. With such great material, all I needed to do was stay out of the way and let the words speak for themselves.”

When Caroline Shaw was approached by Carnegie Hall, she was intrigued by the commission, having never composed anything using text. “It’s like painting, but with music,” she muses, “or scoring a fi lm without any visuals.” Shaw used Facebook to poll her friends and community for their favorite children’s books. She fell in love with The Mountain that Loved a Bird, a work initially unfamiliar to her, and proposed the text to Carnegie Hall for the commission.

Although certainly a master of her craft (Shaw is the youngestever winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Music, among other accolades), her composition for this project is the first piece she has rewritten almost entirely. “This summer I went back—I thought it was completed a year ago—and found that the music was kind of getting in the way of the story ... and now it’s a different piece. It’s defi nitely not the way that I usually write. I was afraid, at first, of the clichés: using the fl ute to portray a bird, for instance. And I thought it should be for full orchestra. But I’ve pared down the score, and the winds are mostly one to a part. I’m up in New Hampshire, surrounded by nature, as I work on the revisions, and that has changed my perspective.”

When Shaw approached the author about the commission, McLerran was friendly but hesitant. “We had these long phone conversations—an hour and a half or more—and enjoyed each other, but she seemed cautious about the project,” Shaw shares. “I went out to meet her in her home on Long Island, and that helped. I wanted to make sure it felt right to her.”

In The Mountain that Loved a Bird, a bird’s friendship with and commitment to a mountain transforms the mountain over time, changing it forever. It’s a beautiful story of friendship and renewal, but it’s also a story about loss and trying to hold on to something that will inevitably change.

Both authors and composers are creators, craftspeople. They work to create each piece, shaping a story with text or pitches. This project unites music and words to create powerful works that truly bring these stories to life.

Edwin Outwater, John Lithgow

Saturday, October 14, 2017 | 2 PM

Carnegie Hall Family Concert: Peter and the Wolf and Other Stories

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s returns to Carnegie Hall with three fantastic family-friendly stories for orchestra and narrator. Prokofiev’s classic Peter and the Wolf is performed alongside two new compositions: Caroline Shaw’s adaptation of The Mountain That Loved a Bird by Alice McLerran, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s take on a favorite children’s book, The Dot and the Line by Norton Juster, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
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11 months ago |
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Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) and the Los Angeles–based Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN) gathered a diverse group of more than 150 thought leaders from across the US last March to launch Create Justice: A National Discussion on Arts and Youth Justice. This new national initiative—focused on the intersection of arts and youth justice—will take place over a series of three forums in New York and Los Angeles throughout the next year.

Participants at the first Create Justice forum included artists, policymakers, funders, activists, researchers, leaders from nonprofit organizations and government agencies, and people whose involvement in the arts made a meaningful difference when they were young. The group convened for a two-day series of talks by featured guest speakers, as well as performances by professional artists and young people. Panel discussions and group conversations centered on developing innovative solutions to help youth succeed during and after justice involvement. The forum was led, in part, by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, chief of program and pedagogy at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Joseph is also a recipient of the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative and the US Artists Rockefeller Fellowship. During the forum, he facilitated conversations to brainstorm ideas and provoke guiding questions with the aim of developing collective strategies to support young people by engaging them through the arts.

Photo by Fadi Kheir  

New York City government and nonprofit leaders shared best practices, and participants had the opportunity to highlight current efforts for young people in cities around the country. Forum participants collaborated on a set of guiding questions that will continue to evolve as the cross-country collective moves forward in its work to develop a national plan of action. Participants asked how they might best support young people through engagement in the arts to forge new identities and by creating pathways for youth to become leaders. They also asked how the arts might work within the system to create intergenerational opportunities and engage families, communities, and neighborhoods to be a part of the solution.

“Through the series of three forums, we’re engaging a network of artists and professionals with a deep reservoir of expertise, and inviting them to brainstorm around questions and to think collaboratively and strategically as we work together to develop a collective action plan,” said Sarah Johnson, director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “The approach we’re taking with the Create Justice initiative might be considered a different way of doing things,” she added. “We’re not coming in with a set of solutions or programs. Inquiry is a big piece of artistry, and leading with inquiry creates a more inclusive platform, grounded in arts practice, to move forward as we look at these issues together.”

“Arts should be valued as foundational to investing in youth wellbeing.”

The second Create Justice forum will be hosted by Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network in Los Angeles on September 25 and 26, when policymakers and artists will further refine their ideas and priorities as they move toward crafting a national plan of action. The participants will be immersed in Los Angeles’s new youth detention facility, the Campus Kilpatrick project, for its first official public event. Stakeholders will work side by side with young people who are integrating arts as part of a holistic, evidence-based pilot program being implemented at this innovative model site.

“We believe arts are uniquely positioned to strengthen young people, create pathways for youth success, and catalyze systems change. Arts should be valued as foundational to investing in youth wellbeing,” said Kaile Shilling, executive director of Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network. “It’s quite radical that both venerable and grassroots arts organizations across the country are addressing youth justice issues as part of their core mission. The consensus among the diverse cross-section of participants—including probation representatives—who attended the first Create Justice forum last March was very clear that a punitive approach that incarcerates our youth is less productive than providing arts as access points, and this is where we want to invest our time.”

“The cost to incarcerate a young person in California is $200,000 per year, and in New York the cost is $350,000 per year,” added Shilling. “In that context, it inspires us even further to invest in our youth by focusing on education, increasing access to the arts, and transforming the juvenile justice system.”

The series of three forums culminates at Carnegie Hall next spring, at which time the network of participants will share a set of national recommendations. The final forum kicks off on March 11, with a concert in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage that will feature renowned artists, as well as young people performing music and showcasing art developed in justice settings.

Visit our video playlist to watch presentations from Create Justice’s March 2017 forum in New York City.

For updates and program activity about the Create Justice initiative, visit and

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This video clip features violinist Michael Rabin and pianist David Garvey performing
Schubert’s Violin Sonata in A Major, D. 574 (Allegro moderato).  

Since Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, its story has been synonymous with the history of music and performance in America. Through 126 years of concert programs; promotional flyers; select audio, video, and film recordings; photographs; autographs; musical manuscripts; correspondence and business records; and architectural drawings, objects, and other materials detailing the origins, activities, and growth of Carnegie Hall, this fascinating story is brought to life today through the collections of Carnegie Hall’s Archives.

About the Film

Concerts at Carnegie Hall—Michael Rabin, 1955 is a promotional film made by documentary filmmaker Robert Snyder (1916–2004) for the Carnegie Hall Films company. In the 13-minute program, violinist Michael Rabin performs music by Schubert, Brahms, and Paganini onstage in the Main Hall (today’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage). Rabin was a child prodigy who died at the early age of 35. The film provides a rare opportunity to see and hear this brilliant performer, collaborating with pianist David Garvey.

Other Snyder films in the Carnegie Hall Films collection feature mezzo-soprano Jennie Tourel, harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick, and pianist Claudio Arrau. As part of the Archives ongoing digitization initiative, these films and other material related to Carnegie Hall’s 126-year history are available to the public for in-person research by appointment. In the future, many of these items will be available online as part of the Digital Collections. Currently, more than 45,000 events can be accessed through our online Performance History Search.

Preserving the Film

Preservation of the Rabin film was a collaborative effort between the Carnegie Hall Archives and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Department of Film, with MoMA providing the film reel that was eventually selected for transfer and digitization. In the summer of 2009, we contacted the Academy Film Archive (AFA), where Snyder’s collection is housed. At that time, we learned that AFA had an incomplete selection of the Carnegie Hall Films and that MoMA had the full collection. We worked with MoMA to evaluate and select appropriate materials for reformatting and digitization.

Carnegie Hall aligned its film preservation plan with the National Film Preservation Foundation’s three steps to fighting motion picture film deterioration:

  1. Transfer the original film onto new, more stable film stock
  2. Store the original film and new master in climate-controlled film storage facilities
  3. Provide access using digital copies made from the film transfer

The original and new physical film elements from the Carnegie Hall Films collection will be on deposit at AFA, which holds Snyder’s materials in its Masters & Masterworks Collection, named after Snyder’s production company. AFA holds almost 200,000 items and has storage optimized to dramatically slow motion picture film deterioration. This repository was selected because, while Carnegie Hall’s offsite storage vaults are climate-controlled and maintain a temperature between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity (rh) between 45 and 55%, these are not optimal conditions for the storage of audiovisual materials—especially our small collection of film, which should be stored closer to the range of 36°F at 50% rh and 45°F at 30% rh.

The collaborative effort between Carnegie Hall, MoMA, and AFA enables us to preserve and make available this tremendous glimpse of Rabin as a teenager. The film awards us insight into his various techniques up close—an opportunity we wouldn’t have had even if we could have seen him and Garvey perform in the live concert. As a historical document, the film captures what the Hall looked and sounded like in the early 1950s. Since we have very little moving image material prior to 1960, recordings like these are incredibly valuable to our institution and researchers.

Materials and Assessment

There is both analog video and motion picture film material related to Rabin’s performance in the promotional film. In addition to VHS and ¾" U-matic tapes (videotape copies created from the 1" open reel video in the early 1990s), the Carnegie Hall Archives had motion picture film elements that went through a condition assessment at the beginning of this extensive project to determine their eligibility for digitization:

  1. One 35mm, black and white, acetate, cut negative
  2. Two 35mm negatives with optical sound (parts 1 and 2)

Pictured above: A reel of deteriorating acetate negative on a core from the Michael Rabin promotional film (2011).  

Pictured above is one of the negative optical soundtracks on Dupont film stock exhibiting signs of twisting, curling, and high shrinkage that results from extreme acetate film deterioration. This type of deterioration is a form of chemical decay, commonly known as “vinegar syndrome” because of the pungent vinegar smell of the film as it breaks down. It is also “contagious”—vinegar syndrome is aggravated by heat and moisture, and can be exacerbated by the “presence of acidic vapors from film degrading nearby.” This reel was quarantined from the other film elements in the collection, as vinegar syndrome cannot be reversed (although it can be slowed down by proper storage, handling, and rehousing to archival cans that allow adequate airflow).

The other reel of negative optical soundtrack was also on Dupont stock and was in better condition (no extreme shrinkage or curling), but was in the category of rapid/active decay due to vinegar syndrome—which was determined using special indicator strips to measure acetic acid off-gassing. The negative, image-only reel was on Eastman Kodak film stock (from 1953, according to its edge code) in fair condition with some broken film cement splices. The image-only reel was also missing the second half of Rabin and Garvey’s performance.

Because of the condition and missing footage in the three reels in the Carnegie Hall Archives, MoMA generously provided a 35mm acetate “answer print” from its collection to be transferred and digitized. An answer print is the version created as intended for release, with image and sound synced, corrected exposure and color; this print was in “great shape,” according to the film transfer technicians in 2013. The reel, MoMA #6957, had the full 13-minute performance with full visuals and sound.

Transfer and Digitization

Film preservation activities of this material took place at ColorLab in Rockville, Maryland. In 2014, MoMA’s answer print was transferred using contact printing with a wet-gate (a chemical bath that temporarily minimizes the effects of scratched film as the image is transferred), after projector oil and other residue was removed during ultrasonic cleaning, and the film reel was inspected, repaired, measured, and had new leader added in preparation for transfer.

To create digital copies for Carnegie Hall’s Digital Collections, ColorLab performed a 2K telecine transfer (a process where the motion picture film is captured as digital video). The result was a stack or series of DPX files, which are individual image files that capture each frame of a motion picture film. When combined, DPX files represent the film content as digital video sequences and can be transcoded to create smaller, viewable versions for access.

Ongoing Preservation Work

The products of the initial transfer and digitization procedures allow us to pursue both physical and digital preservation of the Rabin/Garvey material. The transfer and digitization process in 2014 produced the following new film and digital preservation master versions.


  1. 35mm polyester black and white duplicate negative
  2. 35mm negative optical soundtrack
  3. 35mm polyester composite sound black and white answer print


  1. ~38k DPX files (RAW)
  2. 1 mezzanine file (QuickTime ProRes 422, 24 frames-per-second, PCM audio) used to produce access copies

The decision to both physically and digitally preserve this material aligns with our commitment to preservation as a process rather than a single activity. The long-term perspective enables the Carnegie Hall Archives to constantly and consistently review and revise our preservation practices, which include everything from storage infrastructure (how and where assets and information are stored, managed, and organized) to metadata management (how information about materials is captured, improved, and kept meaningful). Our goal is to sustain access to cultural heritage material, like this short film from the 1950s, so that many generations can explore, interpret, and enjoy our shared musical history.

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On July 1, young musicians from across the country arrive at Purchase College, SUNY, to begin the 2017 NYO-USA and NYO2 residencies. Violinist Allen Liu—from Chattanooga, Tennessee—returns for a second summer in NYO2. He reflects on his experience in 2016 and how it informed his relationship with his community at home. In 2017, NYO-USA and NYO2 musicians continue to explore their roles as artists in society, interacting with other young musicians in New York City, Philadelphia, and on NYO-USA’s Latin American tour.

Allen Liu, Violin
Chattanooga, Tennessee
NYO2 2016 and 2017

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I first heard the words “National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America” used in conjunction about three years ago. For the next two years, I followed that revered ensemble at its periphery—the YouTube videos, Facebook updates, and press releases. However, beyond that boundary, “NYO” was an abstraction that only existed in my imagination.

Last year, I had the opportunity to reconcile imagination and reality in the inaugural season of NYO2, but I still cannot quite find the words to capture my experience. Certainly, it is possible to narrate the myriad of experiences of the residency—from the master classes and sectionals with The Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, to the synergy of orchestra rehearsals with Maestro Guerrero, to the social entrepreneurship workshop with Project 440, to our debut at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, to the symphonious cacophony of a 350-member combined orchestra performance.

Yet, there is something ineffable that concrete experiences, no matter how numerous, fail to capture. For me, NYO2 is not about the one-time, tangible experiences, whether these experiences take the form of a casual chamber music reading in the dorm or a concert in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. Rather, NYO2 is about possibilities—no experience exists in isolation from the mosaic of possibilities of which it is a part. In reflecting on my time in NYO2 last summer, I have decided to look past the individual experiences and instead towards the underlying mosaic of possibilities that NYO2 creates.

For me, at the core of this mosaic is NYO2’s commitment to social innovation. Our activities in NYO2 last year breathed life into the words of José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, who emphasized the importance of “not putting society at the service of art, but art at the service of society.” Our workshop with Project 440 on social entrepreneurship and our peer-mentoring session with students in the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth introduced me to the idea of music as a medium for social innovation, as well as the idea that classical music can be used to creatively and organically engage with the audience and community. These ideas inspired me this past year as I worked with my hometown’s chamber music concert series, String Theory, to organize a one-week artist residency with violinist Robyn Bollinger. The environment within NYO2 and NYO-USA has also been very encouraging of student ideas. In fact, this summer I am looking forward to contributing a video to NYO-U, an educational project started by NYO-USA alum Akshay Dinakar.

The community in NYO2 is also essential to its vast possibilities. My time in NYO2 last summer led me to reflect on the characteristics of a strong community, and what stood out to me about NYO2 was that the community exemplified both similarity and difference. Though we all bonded through our shared passion for music, there was such a diversity of backgrounds that every individual also contributed something genuinely unique. I did feel that our community was a microcosm of the diversity of the United States, and this diversity led to rich conversations. The individuals in the NYO2 community were also among the most dynamic, thoughtful, and multi-talented people whom I have ever met, and I am looking forward to the numerous conversations, rehearsals, and hours in the basement of the music building that we will share this summer.

I am excited that NYO2 has been expanded to a three-week program; I think that the extra week will allow our community to thoroughly coalesce, both socially and musically. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with NYO-USA musicians, especially in our chamber ensembles. Working with students in the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth and continuing the social entrepreneurship lessons from last year through Artists in the Community Workshops will also be a highlight this summer. Finally, it goes without saying that having the opportunity to perform at the Kimmel Center and in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall is surreal.

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Ultimately, however, the possibilities of NYO2 are so boundless that my experiences from a single year and anything that I can anticipate this summer represent only a microscopic subset of what NYO2 offers. I am looking forward to uncovering another piece of that infinite mosaic of possibilities and, in doing so, bringing “NYO”—that once-fascinating figment of my imagination—into the grasp of reality.

Learn more about the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) and NYO2.

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