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Carnegie Hall announces summer concert festival:World Orchestra Week—WOW!—a celebration of international youth orchestras

Source:Carnegie Hall 2024.02.02

  Carnegie Hall today announced a new summer concert festival—World Orchestra Week (WOW!), a celebration of international youth orchestras—scheduled to take place this August 2024. Inspired by the Hall’s three critically acclaimed national youth ensembles—the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA), NYO2, and NYO Jazz—this ambitious international initiative brings five youth orchestras from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to New York City for high-level music making with some of today’s most internationally-renowned artists plus cultural exchange activities among the orchestras over the course of one week.


  The five ensembles featured in the 2024 festival include: the National Children’s Symphony of Venezuela, the Africa United Youth Orchestra, the Beijing Youth Symphony Orchestra, the European Union Youth Orchestra, and the Afghan Youth Orchestra. These five orchestras, along with Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America and NYO2, will each perform in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage from August 1–7, 2024. In addition to public performances at Carnegie Hall, the community of more than 700 young musicians from around the globe will take part in their own cultural exchange and communal music-making experiences throughout the week, including a massive play-in event to include all festival participants. Musicians participating in World Orchestra Week will be housed at New York University, a key partner in the program.


  “We’re thrilled to bring these superb young musicians from around the world together this summer as part of World Orchestra Week,” said Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. “This special festival will celebrate the pivotal role that music can play in society, bringing so many of the finest young musicians from around the world together across languages, cultures, and backgrounds. We know that these young people have extraordinary potential to become the leaders of tomorrow as musicians and also as changemakers in other important fields. This will be an inspiring week of collaboration as we truly bring the world together through music.”    


  World Orchestra Week kicks off on Thursday, August 1 at 7:00 p.m. with a performance by NYO2—Carnegie Hall’s national youth orchestra featuring outstanding younger musicians from across the US, ages 14–17—led by Teddy Abrams, Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra. The evening’s program includes Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, and Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite (1919 version), plus the world premiere of a new wind concertante (co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall) by Jasmine Barnes, featuring principal players from leading US orchestras including flutist Demarre McGill, oboist Titus Underwood, clarinetist Anthony McGill, and bassoonist Andrew Brady.


  The next day, Friday, August 2 at 7:00 p.m., Gustavo Dudamel leads the National Children’s Symphony of Venezuela in a program to include John Adams’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine along with Latin American classics Mediodía en el llano (Midday on the Plains) by Estévez, and Ginastera’s Four Dances from Estancia, which the orchestra performed in its unforgettable international debut at the Salzburg Festival. The second half of the concert is anchored by Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. The orchestra is comprised of talented young musicians, ages 10–17, who take part in Venezuela’s El Sistema program.


  On Saturday, August 3 at 7:00 p.m., audiences will enjoy the North American debut of the new Africa United Youth Orchestra (AUYO), which is organized by South Africa’s national orchestra, the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra. The AUYO is made up of stellar musicians from South Africa who are joined by young artists from other African nations. The program features Dvořák’s Symphony No.9, “From the New World,” and South African composer Michael Mosoeu Moerane’s Fatše La Heso (My Country). The complete artist line-up and program for this performance will be announced in spring 2024.


  On Sunday afternoon, August 4 at 4:00 p.m., Lü Jia leads the Beijing Youth Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble newly created by China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). Lü, who has previously performed at Carnegie Hall as conductor of the renowned China NCPA Orchestra, leads a program to include both Western and Chinese orchestral works, including Zhao Jiping’s Pipa Concerto No. 2 with guest soloist Wu Man. The complete program information will be announced in spring 2024.


  Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA takes the stage on Monday, August 5 at 7:00 p.m., led by conductor Marin Alsop. The orchestra performs Barber’s Symphony No. 1; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist; and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Eight musicians from Polyphony—the Nazareth-based educational program that brings together Arab and Jewish musicians from Israel in performance—join NYO-USA for their New York training residency and Carnegie Hall performance, taking part in the WOW! festival. Following its New York concert, NYO-USA embarks on a South American tour.


  The European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) conducted by Iván Fischer, performs on Tuesday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m. with a program featuring Masquerade by Anna Clyne, recently appointed as the BBC Philharmonic’s composer in association; Dohnányi’s Variations on a Nursery Tune, Op. 25 with pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason as soloist; and G. Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. Founded in 1976, the EUYO, comprised of extraordinary musicians, ages 16–26, representing all 27 European Union countries—has served as the EU’s cultural ambassador with performances around the globe for close to 50 years. Four young Ukrainian musicians join the EUYO as special guests for this performance. The orchestra last appeared at Carnegie Hall in 2012.


  The closing concert of the festival on Wednesday, August 7 at 7:00 p.m. features the Afghan Youth Orchestra, an inspiring collective of Afghan young musicians who were forced to flee their country in 2021, led by Tiago Moreira da Silva. Made up of dedicated musicians (ages 14–20) from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) founded by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, the orchestra plays both Western and traditional Afghan instruments in repertoire that includes Western symphonic works, original compositions, and traditional Afghan music. Recent tours have taken this ensemble to Germany, France, Italy, Tajikistan, and Switzerland, including a performance at the 2023 UN Human Rights Council meeting. ANIM’s National Youth Orchestra debuted in the United States in 2013 when they toured to the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. The complete artist and program information will be announced in spring 2024.


  New York University (NYU) Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development is a key partner in Carnegie Hall’s upcoming youth orchestra festival. The participating orchestras will be housed on NYU’s iconic campus, located in Greenwich Village, where they will undertake their initial rehearsals and connect with peers from around the world. More information on cultural exchange and cross-orchestral activities will be announced later this year.