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Carnegie Hall's National Youth Jazz Orchestra - NYO Jazz - Makes Debut Tour to Asia this Summer 2019

Acclaimed Trumpeter Sean Jones Leads Ensemble with Grammy Award-Winning Vocalist Kurt Elling as Special Guest Artist

NYO Jazz Performs Annual Carnegie Hall Concert on July 27, Followed by First Tour to Asia, Featuring Debut Performances in Taichung, Beijing, Shanghai, Zhuhai, and Hong Kong, July 29-August 9

Program Includes Big Band Favorites, New Carnegie Hall-Commissioned Work by Singapore-Born American Composer Ayn Inserto, Plus Arrangements of Contemporary Pieces that Explore Jazz’s Influence on Hip-Hop, R&B, and Pop, and More

Sean Jones and Kurt Elling Sean Jones by Conrad Louis-Charles, Kurt Elling by Anna Webber

(July 11, 2019; NEW YORK, NY)—This summer, Carnegie Hall’s national youth jazz orchestra NYO Jazz—returns for its second year after a triumphant Carnegie Hall debut and inaugural international tour in 2018. The critically-acclaimed ensemble features 23 outstanding young American jazz musicians (ages 16-19) selected from across the United States who will come together for an extraordinary summer of music making, performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City (Saturday, July 27), culminating with the group’s first-ever tour to Asia from July 29-August 9.

Acclaimed trumpeter Sean Jones returns to lead NYO Jazz in summer 2019, joined by Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling as special guest artist, bringing his signature baritone voice and unparalleled scatting prowess to the engagements. Immediately following NYO Jazz’s Carnegie Hall concert, the ensemble travels to Taipei for cultural exchange activities with young, local musicians, followed by two performances at the National Taichung Theater in Taichung (July 30 and 31). The tour continues with a concert at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (August 4) and two engagements in Shanghai: Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai (August 5) and the Shanghai Oriental Art Center (August 6), followed by a concert two nights later at the Huafa & CPAA Grand Theatre in Zhuhai (August 8). The tour concludes with a performance at Asia Society Hong Kong Center (August 9).

For NYO Jazz’s 2019 concerts, Carnegie Hall has commissioned Singapore-born American composer Ayn Inserto, who has been hailed as one of the most distinctive large-ensemble composers of her generation and is currently Associate Professor in Jazz Composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. NYO Jazz’s diverse program will also include new arrangements by Igmar Thomas and Wycliffe Gordon, and other contemporary pieces that explore jazz's influence on hip-hop, R&B, and pop music, as well as big band standards by Dizzy Gillespie, Don Ellis, Thad Jones, and Mary Lou Williams.

NYO Jazz’s touring activities have been designed to allow America’s finest young musicians to share their artistry with international audiences while also experiencing the richness of Asian culture and music. As part of their travel schedule, NYO Jazz players will have the exciting opportunity to tour the cities in which they will be performing. On July 30, in Taipei, they will collaborate with local high school musicians, as well as students from the American Institute in Taiwan Youth Camp. With sponsorship from U.S. diplomatic posts, NYO Jazz will continue the cultural exchange and peer-to-peer activities that have become a hallmark of Carnegie Hall’s national youth ensembles.

“We are thrilled that NYO Jazz will be making its debut tour to Asia in summer 2019,” said Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. “The musicians who make up NYO Jazz’s 2019 roster are among the finest jazz players in the nation, passionate not only about music, but also dedicated to connecting with people across cultures. This summer promises to be a truly memorable summer of life-changing experiences through unparalleled training with esteemed jazz artists and extraordinary performances of America’s beloved art form around the world as they serve as wonderful musical ambassadors for their country."

"I am so happy to be joining Sean Jones and NYO Jazz for this marvelous tour,” said Kurt Elling. "It will be my first time to several of the stops, which is always exciting. And to revisit favorite cities like Shanghai and Beijing and reunite with my audiences there with the marvelous NYO Jazz will be a thrill. The band and I hope to extend the hand of friendship to all we encounter through the language of music."

“With the second year of NYO Jazz upon us, I am beyond excited that Asia is our destination this year,” said Sean Jones, who leads NYO Jazz as its artistic director. “We have a robust program representing the depth and breadth of America’s Jazz Orchestra and we are thrilled to share it with our brothers and sisters across the Pacific.”

NYO Jazz—comprised of outstanding young American jazz musicians ages 16–19 from across the US—showcases the legacy and bright future of American jazz. In 2019, the acclaimed ensemble returns for its second year following an inaugural season of extraordinary music-making and a successful debut tour to Europe, during which the musicians played to sold-out houses and received standing ovations and rave reviews.

About NYO Jazz and Summer 2019 Artists
Established in summer 2018, NYO Jazz shines a spotlight on the depth of talent found among young jazz players across the United States. The program offers talented teens the opportunity to perform as cultural ambassadors for their country, sharing a uniquely American musical genre with people around the world through an international tour each summer. The members of the 2019 NYO Jazz—hailing from 15 US states and drawn from every region of the country—have been recognized by Carnegie Hall as being among the finest jazz musicians in the country, following a rigorous and highly-competitive audition process.

In preparation for NYO Jazz’s Carnegie Hall concert and 2019 Asia tour, the group’s musicians will participate in an intensive two-week training residency from July 14-26 on the campus of Purchase College, State University of New York, located in Westchester County, just north of New York City, where they will undertake their initial training and rehearsals at the College’s highly-regarded Performing Arts Center. The musicians will have the opportunity to play alongside talented peers and learn from the NYO Jazz faculty, comprised of world-class jazz masters, who will lead in-depth training workshops, master classes, and other seminars on essential music skills. Following its residency, each summer NYO Jazz performs at New York City’s Carnegie Hall with a celebrated guest artist before embarking on a tour to some of the world’s great music capitals. As part of their travel schedule, NYO Jazz musicians also have opportunities to meet and collaborate with young local musicians and experience the richness of different cultures and music.

NYO Jazz builds on the success of the acclaimed National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) and its sister ensemble for younger musicians NYO2, programs created by Carnegie Hall in 2013 and 2016, respectively, to bring together the finest young classical musicians from across the country each summer for training, performances and international touring. Each of these prestigious national programs—free to all participants—is dedicated to the proposition that talented young musicians thrive when they have the opportunity to expand their musical, social, and cultural horizons and share their artistry with audiences around the globe. Since 2013, NYO-USA has toured extensively across the US, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, including debuts in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong as part of a seven-city tour of China in 2015 and concerts in Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, and Daejeon in 2018. Last summer, NYO Jazz’s first-ever international tour included performances at prestigious concert halls and music festivals in London, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, and Berlin.

Trumpet player Sean Jones—one of the jazz’s most outstanding performer-composer-educators—serves as NYO Jazz’s artistic director, leading the ensemble’s faculty as well as directing the orchestra’s performances. A highly respected and in-demand musician, Mr. Jones has recorded and performed with major artists including Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Illinois Jacquet, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Gerald Wilson, and Marcus Miller. His relationship with Mr. Miller led Mr. Jones to be selected for the A Tribute to Miles tour in 2011 with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. He has also performed with the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown symphony orchestras, as well as Soulful Symphony in Baltimore and a chamber group at the Salt Bay Chamberfest. Mr. Jones also performs with his own ensembles, and has a longstanding relationship with Mack Avenue Records, with which he has released eight albums. His most recent is the 2017 release Sean Jones: Live from Jazz at the Bistro. Heavily involved in education, Mr. Jones is an internationally recognized educator. He was recently appointed the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Previously, he served as chair of the brass department at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, Grammy winner Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. Declared “the standout male vocalist of our time” by The New York Times, Mr. Elling has garnered unprecedented accolades, including a 14-year run atop the DownBeat Critics Poll, a dozen Grammy nominations, and eight Jazz Journalists Association awards for “Male Singer of the Year.” Mr. Elling’s voice is instantly recognizable, embracing listeners with his warm, rich baritone and navigating the full span of his four-octave range as a virtuoso instrumentalist and a compelling storyteller. Whether transforming timeless standards or crafting his own enthralling originals, Mr. Elling balances elegant lyricism and technical mastery with wry humor, emotional depth, and keen observations into the human condition.

Mr. Elling’s most recent release, The Questions, vividly exemplifies his ability to respond to the world around him with both urgent immediacy and a unique perspective. Co-produced by NEA Jazz Master and acclaimed saxophonist Branford Marsalis, the album searches for answers to culture’s most divisive social, political, and spiritual issues in the songs of Bob Dylan, Carla Bley, and Leonard Bernstein, and the poetry of Rumi and Wallace Stevens. Mr. Elling had previously joined Mr. Marsalis and his long-running quartet for 2016’s Grammy-nominated Upward Spiral, which All About Jazz hailed as “suffused with graciousness, beauty, and, on occasion, heartbreak.”


Sean Jones, Bandleader and Trumpet

with Special Guest:
Kurt Elling, Vocals

NYO Jazz’s diverse program will feature a new Carnegie Hall-commissioned work, Mr. Jones and CO, by Singapore-born American composer Ayn Inserto; new arrangements by Igmar Thomas and Wycliffe Gordon, and other contemporary pieces that explore jazz's influence on hip-hop, R&B, and pop music, as well as big band standards by Dizzy Gillespie, Don Ellis, Thad Jones, and Mary Lou Williams.

Tuesday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 31 at 7:30 p.m.
National Taichung Theater

Sunday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m.
National Centre for the Performing Arts

Monday, August 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai

Tuesday, August 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Shanghai Oriental Art Center

Thursday, August 8 at 8:00 p.m.
Huafa & CPAA Grand Theatre

Friday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Asia Society Hong Kong Center
Hong Kong



Lead Donors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Kovner Foundation, Beatrice Santo Domingo, and Maggie and Richard Tsai.

Global Ambassadors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, and Maggie and Richard Tsai.

Major support has been provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Clive and Anya Gillinson, Jean Eric Salata and Baring Private Equity Asia, and MBK Partners.

Additional support has been provided by Sarah Arison, Bank of America, and CHIMEI Culture Foundation.

Public support has been provided by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.



What the press said about NYO Jazz 2018:

“This teenage big band … was more than capable of responding with real bravura to the uncompromising improvisational challenges of seasoned players.” —The Scotsman

“This young players’ tour, which they executed with such brilliance and heart-warming generosity, has come not a moment too soon.” —The Telegraph (Five-star review)

“Jazz may not be the lingua franca of Generation Z, but this performance was resounding proof that the music still bridges the chasm.” —The Times (London) (Four-star review)


To learn more about NYO Jazz, visit carnegiehall.org/NYOJazz.
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