August 13, 2013

The National Youth Orchestra


Scott: These are some of the most talented young musicians in the country, chosen to be a part of Carnegie Hall’s first ever National Youth Orchestra this summer.

Now, it is the first National Youth Orchestra with Carnegie Hall. How does it feel to be a part of, almost, history?

Joseph Morag: I mean, it was really a huge honor to be in the first – because it will be always historic, and the videos will be there when they make a documentary in seventy years.

Julia Popham: I’ve never played in an ensemble of this caliber. In fact, I didn’t know I could ever be part of something this beautiful sounding.

Scott: Twenty-five hundred young musicians applied but only 120 of them made it through the tough audition process, including violinists Joseph Morag and Julia Popham.

Julia: We said a prayer and we opened the email, and then my mom started freaking out and we just started dancing around the kitchen!

Scott: The youth orchestra was lead by a world famous maestro, Valery Gergiev, after just nine days of practice.

Joseph: He is the greatest conductor, certainly, that I’ve ever worked with and, I think alive today. Every single word that he said about the music I felt was exactly right and exactly in the spirit of what Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky intended.

Scott: After two weeks of rehearsals, they then took their show on the road, performing in Purchase, New York; Washington, D.C.; Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia and finally in London, where their concert was nationally televised.

Joseph: Youth orchestras, people don’t practice. I mean, they practice, like, two days before the concert, they realize they don’t know the notes. But here, everybody was technically perfect before we even started playing.

Scott: Joseph was born in New York City where he is part of the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra, and was inspired by visiting Moscow’s Red Square.

Joseph: We were playing Shostakovich and you feel like Shostakovich, the deep dark symphony, two o’clock in the morning, standing in Red Square. It’s a good image to have in your head when you are playing the symphony.

Scott: Lines formed even before tickets began to sell at 6:30 a.m. in London. Arenas were packed with 7,000 people, both seated and standing.

Joseph: It was really wonderful to see that every single seat and every single square-inch of standing room was taken up.

Scott: I mean, it is kind of like being a rock star, it sounds like.

Joseph: Represent!

Scott: And representing the National Youth Orchestra means that you are more than a musician.

Joseph: You have, like, a sense that you’ve somehow reached these people in a way that you could never do so just by speaking to them. But we are cultural ambassadors and it’s important that we give a good image also when we are not on the stage of our country and our program.

Scott: Clive Gillinson, the executive artistic director of Carnegie Hall, explains what it is like for the audiences who see the orchestra in action.

Clive Gillinson: It is one of those things where your eyes and your ears are telling you two different stories. You’re looking at the stage and you’re seeing people you think look like kids. You shut your eyes and you’re hearing a great orchestra.


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