From the Top

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Pianist Christopher O'Riley accompanies 10-year-old violinist Alice Ivy-Pemberton as she plays a Bartók rhapsody for NPR's From the Top.

From the Top is a nationwide American program and initiative to develop and showcase young classical musicians. It is best known for its NPR radio and PBS television programs hosted by pianist Christopher O'Riley, which celebrate the passion, dedication and personal stories of America's best young classical musicians.

Through entertaining radio and television broadcasts, a national tour of live events, education programs and community outreach, From the Top celebrates pre-collegiate musicians in the same light that has traditionally been reserved for America’s great young athletes.

Radio[edit]

From the Top’s landmark radio showcase of America’s top young classical musicians with host Christopher O'Riley is distributed by NPR to nearly 250 public radio stations nationwide. Among the most popular programs on public radio, From the Top reaches more than 700,000 loyal listeners each week. From the Top's radio program weaves together high-caliber artistic performances with interview segments that reveal the personalities of each featured performer. Each radio broadcast highlights five soloists and/or chamber ensembles. Host Christopher O'Riley serves as interviewer, musical coach, and accompanist for the program.

Television[edit]

From the Top at Carnegie Hall, the Emmy-nominated PBS series produced by From the Top, WGBH Boston, and Don Mischer Productions, in partnership with Carnegie Hall, provides an intimate, and often funny, glimpse at the lives of young musicians who pursue life with passion, dedication and joy. Hosted by acclaimed concert pianist Christopher O'Riley, the program captures the excitement and magic of their Carnegie Hall debut. Based on the popular NPR radio program From the Top, this Emmy-nominated PBS series gives a backstage pass to meet America's most talented young classical musicians.

National Tour[edit]

From the Top tapes its radio show before live audiences in venues coast-to-coast, including From the Top’s home at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, the Library of Congress, Houston Grand Opera, Aspen Music Festival and School and more. From the Top presents in-school programs in conjunction with many of these live events creating community value for its partnering presenters.

Scholarships[edit]

From the Top’s Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award program annually provides 25 deserving young musicians with a $10,000 scholarship so that they can make the most of their abundant talent and seize opportunities to play at their best.

Education Programs[edit]

From the Top’s education and community outreach programs bring classical music and From the Top performers into classrooms, youth organizations, and arts programs across the country. These programs inspire budding musicians of all ages, share the joy of making music, and thrill young audiences with the power of great performances by exceptional teen musicians. Each year, 10,000 students participate in classroom programs led by From the Top performers, millions of students learn about music through the stories of From the Top performers in Macmillan/McGraw Hill textbooks, and thousands more utilize From the Top's online platforms and social networks.

Performers[edit]

From the Top performers are ages 8-18 and hail from nearly all of the 50 states and Canada. Many have come to the United States from countries such as China, Venezuela, Japan, Chile, France, and South Africa to pursue their musical studies. Their interests outside of music range from soccer and volleyball to student council and environmental studies. Each year, thousands of musicians apply to be on From the Top. Since its founding, From the Top has presented more than 1,000 young musicians on radio and TV. From the Top alumni are now playing in top orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, managing solo careers, and pursuing fields outside of music.

History[edit]

In 1995, shortly after the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston had undergone an extensive renovation of its famous concert hall Jordan Hall, the board of trustees and staff were charged to bring more people to more events in this remarkable concert venue. Soon after, standing on a street corner, Gerald Slavet, a trustee at NEC, and Jennifer Hurley-Wales, at the time the Acting Director of External Affairs had one of those magical moments you see in movie. Jennifer said, "We should do an old-fashioned radio show in Jordan Hall." Jerry said, "Great idea, but it should focus on kids!"

With substantial funding from the US Department of Education and a successful pilot season, in January 2000, From the Top with host Christopher O'Riley, debuted as a weekly public radio series on 100 radio stations around the country. Since then, it has become the nation's most popular weekly classical music program, broadcast on nearly 250 stations nationwide to an audience of more than 700,000. Even before the radio program went national, From the Top began building related educational programs utilizing the power of young performers as role models for other children. From the beginning, From the Top worked with a variety of partners-including New England Conservatory, Cherry Lane Publishers, Music Educators National Conference, Music Teachers National Association, and Education Development Center-to create and pilot music curricula in Massachusetts elementary schools.

In 2003, From the Top and Young Audiences created and piloted a "Make Your Own Radio Show" curriculum. In 2004, From the Top began a partnership with McGraw-Hill publishers to feature young From the Top musicians in their new series of textbooks for children in grades 2-12. At From the Top's very first pilot episode it was evident that the young performers were powerful role models. Through their music and life stories, they inspire audiences of all ages to explore music and the arts as a deeply enriching part of life. From the Top's musicians also demonstrate the necessity of discipline, passion, and focus as the foundation of any great achievement. Following every broadcast taping, From the Top gathers its performers to reflect on their experience on the show, and gain new insights about how they can use their talents to give back to their communities. This cultural leadership workshop empowers participants to fully explore their potential as artists, leaders and arts advocates.

In 2005 the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation teamed up with From the Top to identify and annually award 25 deserving young musicians Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Awards of $10,000 each in support of furthering their musical education. These young classical musicians between the ages of 8-18 have high levels of artistic achievement; demonstrated financial need; and a solid academic record. As of June 2009, From the Top and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will have provided 100 young musicians with this life-changing scholarship.

In 2006, production began on the first season of a 13-part PBS television series From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall. The series, produced by From the Top, WGBH Boston, and Don Mischer Productions, in partnership with Carnegie Hall, aired to critical acclaim in April 2007 and was nominated for three Daytime Emmys in 2008. With new director Gary Halvorson and a new name, From the Top at Carnegie Hall, the series became the first PBS program to have a full season of episodes available for streaming online in 2008, bringing the energy, performances and stories of kids who are passionate about classical music to a global audience. In January 2009, From the Top at Carnegie Hall debuted on PBS primetime.

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