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National Youth Orchestra of China (NYO-China) Makes International Debut at Carnegie Hall on July 22

July 22 marks the launch of the National Youth Orchestra of China (NYO-China), which makes its international debut with Ludovic Morlot and Yuja Wang at New York’s Carnegie Hall, before joining Morlot and Olga Kern for a three-city tour of China. Founded by three young college graduates who recognized the opportunity that a program of this kind can provide from observing Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA), the new orchestra comprises 105 Chinese citizens between the ages of 14 and 21, chosen from more than 1,000 respondents by means of a rigorous online audition process. Their Carnegie Hall concert marks the culmination of an intensive two-week, all-expenses-paid U.S. residential training program at Pennsylvania’s East Stroudsburg University under the direction of Morlot, Artistic Director Jindong Cai, and NYO-China’s teaching artists: a hand-picked team of leading Chinese-born musicians, who include concertmaster Frank Huang and principal oboe Liang Wang of the New York Philharmonic. Besides attending rehearsals, masterclasses, seminars, workshops, chamber readings, and mentorship sessions, during the residency the orchestra’s members will record broadcasts for WQXR and NPR’s From the Top, visit the Yale School of Music, and enjoy invaluable opportunities for cultural exchange with their American counterparts in the NYO-USA. Thus providing an international platform for exceptional young Chinese musicians of all economic backgrounds, and harnessing the unparalleled power of music to transcend geopolitical borders, NYO-China’s inaugural season represents cultural diplomacy at its best. Click here to see an introductory video about NYO-China.

Ambassador Zhang Qiyue, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, observed:

“Music knows no boundaries and brings people together like nothing else. Through the international language of music, the NYO-China project offers the Chinese and American young artists an opportunity to interact and make friends with each other. Such mutual understanding and friendship helps lay the foundation for a strong state-to-state relationship.”

Robert Blocker, Yale University’s Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music, added:

“These young musicians are going to play in the great concert halls of this world, working and making music with some of the most celebrated artists across the globe. This will be a transformative experience for them.”

NYO-China is the brainchild of its Managing Director, young Chinese-American Vincent Accettola, who drew inspiration from the example of NYO-USA, which toured China in 2015. Determined to offer similar musical, educational, and cultural opportunities to young Chinese musicians, Accettola conceived of the orchestra while still a junior at Yale University. He and his roommate Nicholas Brown wrote a comprehensive proposal from their shared dorm room, and went on to found NYO-China with their friend and fellow Yalie Paige Breen, shortly after graduating this time last year. To ensure that no qualified musician should be turned away for lack of funds, they collaborated with young philanthropist Sabrina Xu and the U.S.-China Youth Education Solutions (YES) Foundation to provide the entire NYO-China program – complete with accommodation, tuition, and travel – free of charge. As Accettola explains:

“The rise in young Chinese musical talent has been swift and impressive. It is our hope that NYO-China provides the superior instruction and performance opportunities that their sweat and skill demands.”

NYO-China’s members were selected by means of virtual audition from an applicant pool of Chinese nationals between the ages of 14 and 21. For the first round of review, the audition videos were evaluated by anonymous judges (professional musicians from orchestras including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra). The highest-ranking submissions were then reviewed by a selection committee featuring NYO-China’s teaching artists and Artistic Director. Many hours of careful review went in to finalizing the orchestra’s 105 members. Of these, almost exactly half are male, and half female. Likewise, almost exactly half currently attend high school, while the other half are in college. Together, they constitute a geographically diverse group, for although many grew up in Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, 23 Chinese provincial-level subdivisions are represented in total. About a quarter of the musicians are presently studying overseas in Europe, Singapore, or the United States: they include students from the Beijing and Shanghai Conservatories; the Juilliard, Manhattan, and Mannes Schools; the Cleveland Institute; and the Bard College, Oberlin, and San Francisco Conservatories.

Participation in NYO-China comes with the opportunity to train and perform with some of the world’s foremost musicians. In its inaugural season, the orchestra appears under the leadership of Ludovic Morlot, Grammy Award-winning principal conductor of the Seattle Symphony. At Carnegie Hall, they will be joined by Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang, Musical America’s 2017 Artist of the Year, and in China by Olga Kern, the first woman in more than three decades to take gold medal at the Van Cliburn competition. Tipping its hat to the orchestral traditions of three continents, NYO-China makes its international and Chinese debuts with a program combining Dvorák’s beloved “New World” Symphony with Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and The Rhyme of Taigu by Pulitzer-prize-winning Chinese-American composer Zhou Long.

The inaugural training residency will be led by NYO-China’s Artistic Director Jindong Cai, former Director of Orchestral Studies at Stanford University. He will be joined by the 15 teaching artists – one for each section of the orchestra – almost all of whom are leading Chinese professionals working in major U.S., Chinese, and other international orchestras, including principals and associate principals from the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony (see full listing below). Through sectional rehearsals, coaching, and one-on-one mentorship sessions, the teaching artists are perfectly placed to share the benefit of their experience with NYO-China’s young members.

A high point of the residency is NYO-China’s visit to State University of New York, Purchase College, where its members will socialize and rehearse with NYO-USA (July 16), before attending the American orchestra’s own Carnegie Hall concert (July 21). NYO-China also looks forward to making recordings for WQXR (July 19) and NPR’s From the Top (July 21); visiting Yale University, where Dean of Music Robert Blocker hosts an event that will be livestreamed to China (July 15); and receiving workshops in Alexander Technique and improvisation from American experts.

NYO-China harpist Xinyue Zhang, a 15-year-old from Shanghai, comments:

“I am looking forward to performing with NYO-China on a big stage. This experience will broaden my horizons and will benefit me for many years to come.”

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.
National Youth Orchestra of China (NYO-China): inaugural season

July 8–21
East Stroudsburg University, PA
Training residency with artistic director Jindong Cai, Ludovic Morlot, and teaching artists

  • Rehearsals and sectionals
  • Alexander Technique Workshop with Juilliard’s Lori Schiff
  • Improvisation Workshops with Berklee’s Eugene Friesen
  • Cultural excursion to Yale University, including event hosted by Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music Robert Blocker, which will be livestreamed to China (July 15)
  • NYO-China travels to SUNY Purchase for cookout and joint rehearsal with NYO-USA (July 16)
  • WQXR recording/broadcast (July 19)
  • Recording for From the Top at East Stroudsburg University (July 21)
  • Students travel to NYC to attend NYO-USA’s concert at Carnegie Hall (July 21)
  • July 22 at 8pm
    New York, NY
    Carnegie Hall (international debut)
    With Ludovic Morlot, conductor
    Zhou Long: The Rhyme of Taigu
    Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Yuja Wang, piano)
    Dvorák: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”

    July 26–31
    Tour of China (all information subject to change)
    With Ludovic Morlot, conductor
    Zhou Long: The Rhyme of Taigu
    Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Olga Kern, piano)
    Dvorák: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”

    July 26: Beijing
    July 28 & 31: Shanghai
    July 29: Suzhou

    NYO-China: 2017 teaching artists
    Violin 1: Frank Huang, Concertmaster, New York Philharmonic
    Violin 2: Qing Li, Principal Second, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Viola: Jay Liu, Assistant Principal, San Francisco Symphony
    Cello: Qiang Tu, New York Philharmonic
    Bass: Daxun Zhang, University of Texas at Austin
    Oboe: Liang Wang, Principal, New York Philharmonic
    Bassoon: Fei Xie, Principal, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Clarinet: Yao Guang Zhai, Principal, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Flute: Sibei Weng, Principal, Macao Orchestra, China
    Horn: Xiao-Ming Han, German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Frankfurt, Germany
    Trumpet: Guang Chen, Central Conservatory/China National Symphony, Beijing, China
    Trombone: Wei Zhu, Bremen Philharmonic, Bremen, Germany
    Tuba: Haiyu Wang, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music/China National Symphony Orchestra
    Percussion: Gert Mortensen, Principal, Royal Danish Orchestra, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Harp: Jieyin Wu, concert harpist, San Francisco, CA

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    © 21C Media Group, June 2017

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