Every Summer Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute brings together the country’s brightest young players to form the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. The musicians are two weeks into their Summer residency and are this week joined by Marin Alsop who will conduct them at Carnegie Hall on July 21, before taking them on a three-date tour of Latin America. The works they will be performing on the tour will be John Adams’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine, a new work by Gabriela Lena Frank commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.
As well as a busy rehearsal schedule, the musicians have taken part in sectionals and master classes, and the musicians have had the opportunity to work with a faculty of top-notch players from American orchestras. Marin’s Assistant Conductor with the orchestra is her newly appointed Taki Concordia Conducting Fellow Lina Gonzalez-Granados. Both Marin and Lina will be posting regular updates throughout the tour on this page and on social media! Follow Marin and Lina on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date.
SUNDAY AUGUST 6, 2017
My three very special weeks with NYO-USA wrapped up with two wonderful concerts in Bogota, Colombia. On Thursday night the musicians of NYO played a fantastic concert starting with a rocking rendition of John Adams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” and ending with a passionate performance of Mahler’s Symphony 1.
And then on Friday we partnered with members of the Batuta and Orquesta Filarmónica Juvenil and three gifted young Columbian conductors for our final concert. My assistant conductor and new Taki Concordia Fellow, Lina Gonzalez, conducted beautifully – with 30 members of her family cheering her on!
Watching the kids embrace, with tears of joy and sadness at arriving at the end of this special journey, I was again reminded of how important and transformative this initiative is for every one of them. It is an experience they will remember for their entire lives. Me, too….
Thanks and kudos to Carnegie Hall’s visionary leader, Clive Gillinson and his equally visionary team, led by the very special Sarah Johnson and Doug Beck. You are changing lives and moving our world toward a better future filled with compassion, understanding and beauty. Here’s to NYO-USA!
MONDAY JULY 31, 2017
Hi dear friends:
It has been an interesting couple of days. Since we started the tour, our hectic schedule has been filled with fascinating venues and landscapes.
We started in Guadalajara, where we had two concerts at Auditorio Telmex. This is a gigantic venue, so the orchestra had to adjust to being amplified. We had an amazing crew of audio, and the personnel of the hall was always welcoming and guided us through the process. It is fascinating to see how that sound has evolved since Carnegie Hall, the pieces sound mature and grounded.
The second concert in Guadalajara was special for me. I had the opportunity to share the podium with Marin and James Ross. They have contributed enormously to my development and my personal approach as a conductor, so the fact that I was able to share my comeback to Guadalajara (after 5 years of conducting there) with them meant the world to me.
Coming back to Guadalajara was fun, we had a great sightseeing morning with Marin and Valentina Peleggi and we went to the market at Tlatepaque where we found Marin’s new friend “Iggy the Iguana”, as well as multiple galleries and crafts.
After 4 days in Mexico, we flew to Quito. This was my first time in this city and I’m mesmerized by its richness. In some ways the altitude and the landscapes remind me of my second Home: Bogota. Quito is a city with a lot of charm, incredibly clean.
Teatro Sucre was the complete opposite of Auditorio Telmex. Is a gorgeous venue, incredibly intimate, with good acoustics. After working with the amplified setting, the sound became warmer and you could see a different interaction between the musicians who were actively listening to every single note. They fill my life on this tour with enormous pride and constant love.
My parents are flying from Cali, my family already bought the tickets, and I’m reconnecting with all my friends and colleagues after two long years since I last arrived to Bogota.
I will tell you more about it during this week, but in the meantime…
FRIDAY JULY 28, 2017
Good morning from Guadalajara airport!
We welcomed musicians from the Guadalajara Youth Orchestra last night and had a terrific concert at Telmex. There must have been 3,000 people in the audience-so much fun!
I shared the program with Lina Gonzalez-Granados, NYO Assistant Conductor and new Taki Concordia Conducting Fellow and my wonderful and super talented colleague, Jim Ross. It was a great program featuring music by Gershwin, Bernstein, Frank, and Adams, plus Ginastera, Arteaga, and Márqueza and a new work by a super talented young composer.
It’s so wonderful for these young composers (we have two with us) to have such an opportunity. There are also two young apprentice conductors traveling with us to learn and observe. What a fantastic experience for everyone! Hats off to Carnegie Hall for their care and investment in our next generations!
WEDNESDAY JULY 26, 2017
Today Marin and the NYO-USA perform the first concert of their Latin American tour at the Auditorio TELMEX, Mexico. Although the schedule is busy, Marin and the orchestra found a moment between rehearsals for some shopping and exploring in Tlaquepaque, a colonial city now part of Guadalajara. They even made friends with some of the locals…
Watch the orchestra close its program with their encore piece “Conga del Fuego Nuevo” by Mexican composer Arturo Márquez.
SATURDAY JULY 22, 2017
Today saw Marin lead the NYO-USA and music teachers from around the country in a free pop-up performance in New York’s Times Square, part of Carnegie Hall’s Summer Music Educators Workshop.
We had a couple of fascinating days. After an exciting residence at Purchase Colleague, NYO2 and NYO-USA had their concerts at Carnegie Hall.
I’m mainly the Assistant Conductor for NYO-USA, but the first couple of weeks we had to divide responsibilities during sectionals and a couple of tutti rehearsals for NYO2, so I got familiar with the students and built a strong connection with both the orchestra and the artistic staff.
Thursday was incredibly special for me. As an audience member with the literally the best seats in the house, I was able to experience the hard work, the tears of joy of some of the students and the incredible sense of pride up close. Both NYO2 and NYO-USA pride themselves on the real commitment they have towards a diverse pool of individuals, and watching them in action reminded me of a message of unity and dignity that the country embodies that attracted me to the United States when I decided to come here to study.
On Friday my day started early. One of the conducting apprentices, Maya Miro Johnson and myself embarked on a field trip to the MET and the Juilliard School before our first rehearsal. It was her first time in NYC and we were excited to drive to the city and just be conductor nerds (We call ourselves “TEAM BATON”). She was so excited to be there that it reminded me of the first time I saw the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. I was 18 years old. My parents brought me there for summer vacation and I was breathless. I remember I asked my parents to take a picture of me at Carnegie Hall and I put it on my bedroom just to remind myself that one day I was going to be there working there. Dreams come true in different shapes and yesterday I felt part of my dream was fulfilled. I still have that picture around in one of my scores.
But this is only the beginning! We will be on tour to gorgeous Guadalajara, Quito and last but not least BOGOTA!!! (YES IN CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE I JUST CANT BELIEVE I’M COMING HOME).
More to come…
THURSDAY JULY 20, 2017
Last night we recorded a program for NPR’s “From the Top” with my dear friend and host of the show Chris O’Reilly.
Today we are finessing things and running through the program before we head to NYC for tomorrow’s big concert at Carnegie Hall. Now the trick is to keep everyone relaxed yet focused and not play too much at our dress rehearsal tomorrow afternoon so they’re fresh for the concert! A never ending balancing act.
They’re terrific young musicians and I’m really enjoying making music with them.
Off to NYC- my hometown!
WEDNESDAY JULY 19, 2017
NYO-USA is an orchestra made up of some of the brightest high school musicians from all over the USA. From the orchestra’s very first downbeat I knew this is going to be one special tour. I have been in residence with NYO-USA for the last couple of weeks. 15 days to be exact. During the residency I have helped lead rehearsals alongside other resident conductors, and help the coaches navigate some of the sectionals.
These kids are so lucky. Not everybody can say that when they 16-19 they were playing alongside the timpanist from the MET, the principal cello from Toronto, or the principal clarinet of The Chicago Symphony. Every day I ask myself “What was I doing at 16?”. For a piece like Mahler First Symphony, there is an inherent need to connect with emotions that aren’t necessarily familiar for a child of that age but they have worked so gracefully and so hard to get these feelings across in the music. To suddenly switch to the picturesque imagery from folklore and play with the virtuosity that Gabriela Frank requires to make her piece come alive, and then to play the John Adams piece in all its grandeur the way they do is quite amazing.
Yesterday was Marin’s arrival. We have been preparing for this since day one. The energy was high from beginning to end. Gabriela was in the audience and we were all waiting to experience the first sounds together. It was magic! We are definitely going to have a great time building this repertoire together for the tour.
I can’t wait to see what happens over the next couple of days.
TUESDAY JULY 18, 2017
After only two days rehearsing with the NYO, I am beyond impressed! These young musicians are incredibly special. Jim Ross prepared them impeccably and in our rehearsals together they are enthusiastic, responsive, giving and totally engaged! I’m loving every minute with them.
We have a bit of a break tonight and tomorrow morning before we regroup to record a program for the wonderful radio show “From the Top” tomorrow.