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NYO2’s Whirlwind Weekend in Philadelphia

July 05, 2016

The inaugural year of NYO2 culminated in a weekend of events in Philadelphia, July 1-3, with coachings, concerts, a mega PlayIN, and even some sightseeing.

NYO2 is a 78-member youth orchestra formed in partnership between The Philadelphia Orchestra and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute and features talented musicians ages 14 through 17 from across the country. The program was created with a particular focus on attracting students from communities underserved by, and underrepresented in, the classical orchestral field. NYO2 is an extension of Carnegie Hall’s NYO-USA (the National Youth Orchestra of the USA), a program for ages 16 through 19, now in its fourth year.

The program began with an intensive two-week training period at Purchase College, State University of New York, working with a faculty including members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero.

Giancarlo Guerrero leads NYO2 in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger

Assistant Principal Bass Joseph Conyers gives some expert advice to the students. Photo by Stephanie Berger

Violist Che-Hung Chen coaches one of the students. Photo by Stephanie Berger

Upon arrival in Philadelphia on Friday, July 1, the members of NYO2 mentored younger students from the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth at the Curtis Institute. Brass and percussion ensembles from the group then performed at Penn’s Landing prior to The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Free Neighborhood Concert that evening.

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Principal Timpani Don Liuzzi led the kids in a rehearsal. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Assistant Conductor Lio Kuokman also led the kids in rehearsal. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Bass trombone player Blair Bollinger led the brass ensemble at Penn’s Landing. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s concert at Penn’s Landing.

On Saturday, July 2, the day began with a walk through Chinatown and visits to the National Constitution Center and Reading Terminal. In the afternoon conductor Giancarlo Guerrero lead The Philadelphia Orchestra and NYO2 in rehearsal for their free Side-by-Side concert later that evening in Verizon Hall. The performance began with the Philadelphians performing Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, following by NYO2 in Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien. The two groups came together and performed Respighi’s The Pines of Rome side-by-side, followed by two encores: an abridged version of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, A Symphonic Portrait, and “Hoe-Down” from Copland’s Rodeo. Also on Saturday, July 2, members of NYO-USA’s brass section treated those at the Phillies/Royals game at Citizens Bank Park to a postgame concert. 

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Associate Principal Percussion Anthony Orlando gives some pointers to an NYO2 student. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Cellist Ohad Bar-David chats with a student during a break in the rehearsal. Photo by Jessica Griffin

The Philadelphia Orchestra during the concert. Photo by Will Figg

NYO2 during their performance. Photo by Will Figg

Members of the two ensembles side-by-side. Photo by Will Figg

Photo by Will Figg

Members of NYO’s brass ensemble at Citizens Bank Park. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

The final day began with a Free Full Orchestra PlayIN at the 23rd St. Armory, with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra, NYO2, NYO-USA, and local instrumentalists from Philadelphia-area youth orchestras—over 300 musicians total! NYO Orchestra Director James Ross and Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Conductor Lio Kuokman led performances of Bizet’s “Farandole” from L’Arlésienne, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol,and the finale to Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. The kids of NYO2 gathered one last time for a final farewell meal at Pizzeria Stella. It was obvious that not only did they learn a great deal through the entire residency they also made life-long friendships. 

One of the NYO2 members wrote on Carnegie’s blog: “It was through our activities in Philadelphia that I witnessed firsthand how we could make music more accessible by connecting with the community. … As I left the Armory I thought to myself, ‘This is why I am a musician,’ and felt the urge to create similar collaborations in my community back home.”

The NYO2 and NYO-USA activities fall under the Education and Access branches of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s HEAR initiative, a portfolio of programs that promotes Health and wellness, champions music Education, eliminates barriers to Accessing the Orchestra, and maximizes impact through Research.

Principal Second Violin Kimberly Fisher chats with her NYO2 stand partner before the full orchestra PlayIN rehearsal. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Cellist Richard Harlow rehearses next to an NYO2 student. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Young musicians from local youth orchestras rehearse side-by-side with students from NYO2. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Assistant Principal Bass Joseph Conyers during the rehearsal. Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin

Photo by Jessica Griffin