New York Youth Symphony
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|New York Youth Symphony|
Former Music Director Ryan McAdams leads the New York Youth Symphony in Carnegie Hall on November 30, 2008 in a program that included Beethoven's "Leonore Overture No. 3." Photo By Jennifer Taylor for the New York Times
|Origin||New York, New York, United States|
|Years active||1963 -present|
Director of the Chamber Music Program
Director of Jazz Band Classic
Director of Making Score
Director of Artistic Operations
The New York Youth Symphony is a tuition-free music organization for youth in New York City, widely reputed to be one of the best of its kind in the nation and world. Its programs include its flagship symphony orchestra, Chamber Music program, Jazz Band Classic, Apprentice Conducting, and Making Score(composition program). Its members range from 12 to 22 years of age. The Youth Symphony is also a leader in classical music with its innovative commissioning program called First Music, in which young composers are selected to write works for the programs. Each Orchestra program (there are three each year) includes such a world premiere. There is also a First Art commissioning program for young visual artists. NYYS members are said to include the most talented young musicians in the New York area.
The Orchestra, the flagship program of the NYYS, was founded in 1963. It has had a tradition of seeking the best young orchestral talent in the New York area from ages 12 to 22. The orchestra plays three programs per year, each of which are performed at both Queens College Colden Center for the Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall. Each program usually includes, at least, a cornerstone of the orchestral repertoire and a premiere of a commissioned work. Usually a soloist or soloists will be performing, either an established artist, or a young artist as presented by the Roy and Shirley Durst Debut Series which was founded in 1997. The first Durst artist was Alisa Weilerstein. For the 2010-2011 season, these artists were Anthony McGill, Principal Clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera, violinist Hahn-Bin, and percussionist/composer Eric Guinivan.
The orchestra has not appointed established educators to fill its role as music director. Rather, it has had music directors who at the time were young; many of those conductors have become renowned. The Music Directors of the Orchestra have been:
- David Epstein (1963–1966)
- Leonard Slatkin (1966–1968)
- Richard Holmes (1968–1969)
- Isaiah Jackson (1969–1973)
- David Stahl (1973–1974)
- Kenneth Jean (1974–1976)
- Myung-Whun Chung (1976–1977)
- Robert Hart Baker (1977–1981)
- Salvatore Scecchitano (1981–1982)
- David Alan Miller (1982–1988)
- Samuel Wong (1988–1993)
- Miguel Harth Bedoya (1993–1997)
- Mischa Santora (1997–2002)
- Paul Haas (2002–2007)
- Ryan McAdams (2007–2012)
- Joshua Gersen (2012-Present)
Joshua Gersen is the current music director, with assistant conductor Harrison Hollingsworth.
Chamber Music program
The Chamber Music program provides musicians aged 12 to 22 opportunity to participate in chamber ensembles of a variety of instrumentations. Its current director is Lisa Tipton of the Meridian Quartet.  
The program uses established musicians teach master classes. The coaches for 2008-2009 were:
- Claude Frank, concert pianist,
- Kazuhide Isomura, viola, The Tokyo Quartet
- Kathe Jarka, Alexander teacher
- Gilbert Kalish, concert pianist
- Ani Kavafian, violin/viola, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
- Alan Kay, Clarinet, Orpheus Program Coordinator
- Joel Krosnick, cello, Juilliard String Quartet
- Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
- Frank Morelli, bassoon, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
- Charles Neidich, clarinet, faculty of the Juilliard School
- Daniel Phillips, violin, The Orion Quartet
- Shanghai Quartet members
- Fred Sherry, cello, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
- Carol Wincenc, flute, The New York Woodwind Quintet
- Carmit Zori, violin
Jazz Band Classic
Jazz Band Classic is a 16 member big band dedicated to studying, rehearsing, and performing jazz music. Modeled on the bands of the 1930s and 1940s, Jazz Band Classic preserves this heritage and, keeping with jazz traditions, incorporates it into the current and emerging styles that define the genre for the present generation. Matt Holman is the director as of the 2010-2011 season. Performance spaces include The Garage, Symphony Space, and the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Jazz Band Classic has featured soloists and clinicians such as Joe Lovano, Maria Schneider, Conrad Herwig, Scott Wendholt, Suzanne Morrison, Steve Turre, Warren Vaché, Victor Goines, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Joe Locke, Eric Reed, Lew Soloff, Gary Smulyan, and Frank Wess, giving students a chance to play alongside today's most exciting professional musicians.
Making Score composition program is a series of workshops for young musicians to explore the world of composition and orchestration. Students under age 23 who have a sense of curiosity and a taste for musical adventure. It is directed by Kyle Blaha, who succeeded Anna Clyne,four-time winner of ASCAP Plus award. The founding director was Derek Bermel.
Making Score's sessions are segmented into two distinct classes: Pre-college Division and Advanced Division. The sessions are conducted at two different times, designed to accommodate participants' skill level. Each division has eleven workshops held from November through June. The sessions explore the musical thought of a wide variety of composers, with a focus on orchestration. Examples are drawn from the vast classical and modern repertoire. Using tools such as study scores and orchestration books, the course aims to cultivate the students' own voices through class discussion, written exercises, and free composition."
Guest Lecturers include:
Laurie Anderson, violinist Robert Beaser, composer Christopher Theofanidis, composer Jennifer Higdon, composer Paquito D'Rivera, jazz clarinet and saxophone Ethel, string quartet Nico Muhly Stephen Sondheim John Corigliano Aaron Jay Kernis, composer Steve Reich, composer Kathleen Supové, pianist
Alumni include violinists Marin Alsop, Pamela Frank, Cho-Liang Lin, Shlomo Mintz, and Peter Oundjian; trumpeter Gerard Schwarz; flutist Ransom Wilson; and members of the Juilliard, Emerson, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Mendelssohn String Quartets, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and other major ensembles throughout the world.
New York's major arts reviews regularly critique the Symphony's concerts:
Because the New York Youth Symphony is a student ensemble that draws on musicians ranging in age from 12 to 22, it can be easy to forget, from season to season, just how good it is. But its Carnegie Hall concerts have often been startling. Its programs are built around repertory cornerstones, which these musicians appear not to find daunting, and each concert includes the premiere of a commissioned work as well. The performance level is almost always what you would expect from a full-time, professional adult orchestra, and this group outshines some of the adult ensembles that parade across New York stages night after night... After the intermission, Mr. McAdams conducted a sharply articulated, thoughtfully shaped performance of Mussorgsky’s 'Pictures at an Exhibition.' It was the kind of reading that made a listener prize the details of Ravel’s orchestration more than ever, both as a textbook demonstration of orchestral color and for giving this already vivid piano score a measure of depth and shading that Mussorgsky could never have achieved. Mr. McAdams’s contribution here was an emphasis on the music’s extremes of clarity and mystery, delicacy and grandeur.—Allan Kozinn, December 2, 2008
The Youth Symphony is an accomplished, ambitious group of players ranging in age from 12 to 22. Mr. McAdams’s tenure follows that of Paul Haas, a charismatic conductor whose adventurous programs drew attention to the orchestra... A rousing account of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite (1919) offered further compelling evidence that the Youth Symphony is in good hands with Mr. McAdams.—Steve Smith, December 11, 2007
The New York Sun has called the orchestra "America's best youth symphony."
Review of the 12/6/2010 performance at Carnegie Hall by a local pop culture blogger:
- New York Youth Symphony Membership Booklet, 2008-2009
- Chamber Music America magazine. 'The Chamber Music Program of the New York Youth Symphony has established itself as one of the most well-respected ensemble music training programs in the country...[The program] provides a range of opportunities to study, perform, and rehearse in a context that balances structure with flexibility, guidance and independence, and discipline with inspiration.'
- Watts, Andre. Pianist 'The Chamber Music Program] is truly a wonderful program for students of chamber music, exceptionally important to a student's growth as a musician as well as a human being.'