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New York Youth Symphony Announces its 57th Season - Concerts at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Cente

New York Youth Symphony (NYYS), is proud to continue its mission of educating and inspiring young musicians through its Orchestra, Jazz, Chamber Music, Composition, Musical Theater Composition, Apprenticeship Conducting, and First Music commissioning programs. This season includes seven world premieres of new works commissioned through the First Music program, composed for the Orchestra, Jazz, and Chamber Music ensembles. The season also features renowned and up-and-coming soloists including prodigy pianist Harmony Zhu, 2019 Sphinx Competition winner cellist Sterling Elliott, and leading young pianist Michelle Cann in the Carnegie Hall premiere of Florence Price’s recently re-discovered Piano Concerto in One Movement with NYYS Orchestra, as well as in-demand drummer Matt Wilson, celebrated saxophonist Steve Wilson, and trombone virtuoso Wycliffe Gordon with NYYS Jazz.

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Founded in 1963, the NYYS is internationally recognized for its award-winning and innovative educational programs for talented young musicians. As the premier independent music education organization for ensemble training in the New York metropolitan area, the NYYS has provided over 6,000 music students unparalleled opportunities to perform at world-class venues including Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, National Sawdust, Joe’s Pub, and TheTimesCenter, and to study with world-renowned artists. Beyond the instruction from accomplished musicians, students gain valuable life skills — commitment, discipline, focus, collaboration — and friendships that last a lifetime.

The NYYS is committed to partnering with traditionally underrepresented communities to create pathways for young people to find their way to music, and to a life in music. These community partnerships go beyond the stage to in-school residencies, free community concerts, and family involvement, and make music accessible to a wider and more diverse audience. The NYYS partners with organizations including the Harmony Program, Harlem School for the Arts, SongSpace, Maestra, KIPP Academy Middle School, Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Interlochen Arts Academy, BMI and ASCAP, plus offers fellowships to its current students and alumni/ae through the Vargas-Vetter/Ukena, Van Lier, and Orpheus Arts Management programs.

Executive Director Shauna Quill explains, “The New York Youth Symphony is proud of its 57-year history of providing outstanding music education to students through its six outstanding programs. We are committed to broadening access to the arts through our partnerships across the city as well as through fellowships which support students as they navigate the pathway towards college and perhaps a career in the arts. NYYS students and alumni become part of a community of musical citizens who engage with the arts for a lifetime.”

NYYS Orchestra

Following the group’s successful tour of Spain in summer 2019 with concerts in Madrid, Seville, Ronda, and Valladolid, the NYYS Orchestra’s 57th season, under the baton of Music Director Michael Repper, kicks off on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 2 pm with the first of three performances at the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. Thirteen-year-old pianist Harmony Zhu makes her Carnegie Hall debut performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday year. The concert also includes the world premiere of First Music commission Rehén de tus labios, o Escena de telenovela by Marco-Adrián Ramos, the first performance of Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1 at Carnegie Hall, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

On Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 2 pm, The McCrindle Concert will feature Sphinx Competition-winning cellist Sterling Elliott performing Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor. The concert will also include the world premiere of First Music commission The Sycamore and the Oak by Yale composer Tanner Porter, written to be paired with Respighi’s Pines of Rome. Porter’s piece is co-commissioned by the Interlochen Arts Academy, and during its composition she is working with students at the KIPP Academy Middle School, who are using a variety of art forms to inspire her work.

The 2019-2020 NYYS Orchestra season concludes on Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 2 pm, with The Spring Concert, featuring pianist Michelle Cann making her Carnegie Hall debut in the first performance of Florence Price’s Piano Concerto in One Movement at Carnegie Hall. The program also includes the world premiere of First Music commission Here, We Are Something Else by Patrick O’ Malley and Mahler’s 1st Symphony, the “Titan.” Harmony Zhu and Michelle Cann are both appearing as part of the Roy and Shirley Durst Debut Artist Series, now in its 35th year.


NYYS Jazz, led by director Andy Clausen, will swing into the 2019-2020 season showcasing both classic and contemporary arrangements of big band mainstays. The 17-member ensemble’s season opens at Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center with “Fun Ride”: Swinging Through the Ages, featuring drummer and composer Matt Wilson on Monday, December 3, 2019, with sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. The program celebrates the great drummers of jazz history including Buddy Rich, Max Roach, Art Blakey, and Shelly Manne. This performance also includes the First Music commission and world premiere of One Batch, Two Batch by Matt Horanzy.

The second concert, Celebrating Charlie Parker @ 100, features saxophonist Steve Wilson at Dizzy’s Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday, March 9, 2020, with sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. This concert includes the world premiere of First Music commission In the Shadow of Tall Giants, by Devin Reilly.

The jazz season will conclude on Monday May 11, 2020 with Dreams of New Orleans, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon at TheTimesCenter. This final concert of the jazz season pays homage to the music of New Orleans, and includes the world premiere of First Music commission Cesium 137, by Greg Weis. The NYYS Jazz band will also continue its free community concerts at the Slope Lounge in Brooklyn.

NYYS Chamber Music

The NYYS Chamber Music program, led by director Dr. Lisa Tipton, offers young musicians an opportunity to explore the often-complex dialogue between instruments as a metaphor for learning skills that emphasize open communication, harmony, and compromise. The program provides coaching sessions and master classes with members of the Shanghai Quartet, The Juilliard Quartet, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Imani Winds, and more to over 80 students in 22 ensembles each season. The students will perform two showcases in the spring, hosted this year at Scandinavia House on Monday, May 4, 2020 at 7:30 pm and at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 7:30 pm. First Music commission Tikka by Nina Shekhar will receive its world premiere at Weill Recital Hall.

NYYS Composition

The NYYS Composition program, led by Dr. Kyle Blaha and in partnership with BMI and ASCAP, has broken new ground in its acclaimed sessions for younger composers to examine orchestration styles, techniques, and skills. The program offers student composers the opportunity to explore the world of composition and orchestration through seminars, individual tutorials and workshops and this year hosts sessions with renowned composers and performers including Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli, Matthew Aucoin, David Robertson, Huang Ruo, Martin Bresnick, the Aizuri Quartet, and more. The annual Composition Date 2020 performance, to be held at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 7:30 pm, will include original student compositions performed by members of the Orchestra, Chamber Music, Jazz, and Robert L. Poster Apprentice Conducting programs.

NYYS Musical Theater Composition

After a successful inaugural season led by director Anna Jacobs, The NYYS Musical Theater Composition Program continues into its second season, in partnership with the Harlem School of the Arts, Songspace, and Maestra. The goal of the program is to diversify the voices on Broadway in the long term. It is specially designed to lead students through a range of musical theater songwriting processes. This season will feature guest lecturers including David Yazbek (The Band’s Visit, Tootsie), Lynne Shankel (Allegiance, Cry-Baby), Stephen Brackett (Be More Chill), Barbara Whitman (Fun Home, Next To Normal), and more. Guest artists will include soprano Jamila Sabares-Klemm, mezzo-soprano Grace McLean, tenor Jason Gotay, and baritone Jason Veasey. The students’ original works will be showcased at a final concert at the end of the season performed by the students themselves, as well as students from the Harlem School of the Arts, at Joe’s Pub on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 7:00 pm.

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