Something Different

For basically every summer since I started playing the violin, I’ve done some sort of summer music program. First it was the Blue Lake Suzuki Camp, where we stood in rows, shortest in the front and tallest in the back, breathing in bugs and sawing away on “Lightly Row.” A few years later it was my first sleep-away camp at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Northern Michigan; I played in the “Intermediate Symphony Orchestra” and attended potentially exciting but ultimately awkward co-ed mixers, a chance to leave my blue shorts and red belt in a heap and slip on khakis and a button-down. More recently, the Chautauqua Music Festival offered intensive orchestral study at New York’s beautiful Chautauqua Institution.

Today, I arrived at this year’s summer adventure: the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. You can read more on the About page and on Carnegie Hall’s website — NYO-USA is a program of Carnegie Hall — but basically, the orchestra is a new initiative to create a strong youth orchestra for our country, something that many countries have but that the US has lacked in the past. So today, 119 other young musicians and I arrived at Purchase College in New York to begin the two-week residency that will precede our international tour. At the welcome meeting, we were told by Clive Gillinson, the executive director of Carnegie Hall, that we are not only here to represent ourselves as the young musicians of our country, but we are also acting as cultural ambassadors to the places we will visit. He explained that we, as musicians, can do wonderful things for cultural relations in a very different way than treaties and international laws can.

I think I didn’t really realize until I got here the magnitude of this program. Of course I knew all the incredible stuff it entailed, but it didn’t quite hit me until I arrived just how much went into planning it. The idea has been in the works for way longer than us musicians have known about it, and all of the staff expressed their excitement today that this day had finally arrived, that the first National Youth Orchestra was all together in one place for the very first time. Tomorrow evening will be the first time we play together, which will definitely be thrilling for all of us musicians and, I imagine, for the staff as well.

Most of this blog will be posts about my daily experiences with NYO. I’ll also try to post photos where possible. I hope you enjoy!

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