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National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America Brass Quintet Performs at State Department Luncheon for Chinese President Xi Jinping

Event Hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry

(September 25, 2015; NEW YORK, NY)— Earlier today, members of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) performed as part of a State Department luncheon hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerryfor Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington, D.C. The performance follows the orchestra’s acclaimed debut tour in China in July 2015. The brass quintet, made up of trumpeters Matthew Gajda (Mahwah, NJ) and Henry Whitaker (Annapolis, MD), horn player Nivanthi Karunaratne (Gurnee, IL), trombonist Ethan Shrier (Potomac, MD), and tuba player Anthony Brattoli (Tinley Park, IL), greeted guests arriving at the special event, performing selections from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, in addition to other works.

Established by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in 2013, NYO-USA shines a spotlight on the depth of talent among young instrumentalists across the United States. In July 2015, following performances in Purchase, NY and at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra made its debut in China with seven historic concerts in BeijingShanghaiSuzhouXi’anShenzhenGuangzhou, and Hong Kong led by conductor Charles Dutoit and featuring pianist YUNDI. The concert program included the premiere of Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds by Chinese composer Tan Dun, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for NYO-USA.

“The National Youth Orchestra of the USA challenges its players not only to perform musically at the highest level, but also to serve as great musical ambassadors for their country,” said Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director. “Following their successful and unforgettable tour of China last summer, it is such an honor to be invited to perform for President Xi, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, and their guests on this special occasion.”

Following the orchestra’s tour to China, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Carnegie Hall’s representative in Congress, remained a consistent advocate for the NYO-USA musicians. "I am thrilled that Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra of the United States has been selected to perform at this prestigious event between the leaders of the U.S. and China,” said Congresswoman Maloney (NY-12). “The NYO-USA continues to make significant contributions that encourage international cultural understanding. With this performance today, not only will the leaders of the U.S. and China hear some of our country’s most talented musicians, but the NYO-USA will continue its tradition of deepening ties and relationships between people around the world. I was honored to support the NYO-USA’s efforts to participate in this historic summit.”

Acknowledging the power that music and the arts have to bring people together, NYO-USA’s summer 2015 tour was designated as one of only four Cultural Pillars of the Consultation on People to People Exchange (CPE) between the USA and China; the Cultural Pillars receive this designation to enhance and strengthen ties between citizens of the US and the People’s Republic of China through culture. The tour’s kick-off in July was celebrated with a New York reception for the teen musicians hosted by Ambassador Zhang Qiyue, Consul General of the People's Republic of China, and attended by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, among others, and a special event hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, Max Sieben Baucus, in Beijing.

Learn more about NYO-USA’s role as cultural ambassadors in this video from the July 2015 China tour.

About the Musicians
Matthew Gajda, 18, from Mahwah, NJ, attends the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and plays the trumpet. He hopes to pursue a career as an orchestral trumpet player. NYO-USA 2013, 2014, and 2015

Nivanthi Karunaratne, 19, from Gurnee, IL, attends Princeton University and plays the horn. She would like to pursue a career in music or biological science. NYO-USA 2014 and 2015

Ethan Shrier, 17, from Potomac, MD, attends Winston Churchill High School and plays the trombone. Ethan is a member of Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, Mid Atlantic Trombone Choir. His father, Jonathan, is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department. NYO-USA 2015

Anthony Brattoli, 18, from Tinley Park, IL, attends Brown University and plays the tuba. He hopes to pursue a career in international relations. NYO-USA 2015

Henry Whitaker, 20, from Annapolis, MD, attends Princeton University and plays the trumpet. He’s studying music and is interested in composition and conducting as well as instrumental performance. NYO-USA 2013

About the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America
Each summer, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute brings together the finest young musicians from across the country (ages 16-19) to form the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA). Following a comprehensive audition process and a two-week training residency at Purchase College, State University of New York with faculty made up of principal players from top professional orchestras, these remarkable teenagers embark on a tour to some of the great music capitals of the world, serving as America’s dynamic music ambassadors.

Launched in summer 2013 to great critical acclaim, the first-ever National Youth Orchestra of the USA presented concerts with famed conductor Valery Gergiev and renowned violinist Joshua Bell to enthusiastic audiences in Washington DC; St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia; and at the BBC Proms in London, England. The 2014 orchestra, led by dynamic American conductor David Robertson with virtuoso violinist Gil Shaham as soloist, made its debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City, followed by a coast-to-coast US tour to Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts; Boone, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Sonoma County, California; and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California. This past summer, the orchestra embarked on a historic tour to China under the baton of celebrated conductor Charles Dutoit with internationally-renowned pianist YUNDI as guest soloist, performing in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Xi’an, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. In 2016, NYO-USA is joined by conductor Christoph Eschenbach and pianist Emanuel Ax for its concerts at Purchase College, SUNY, and Carnegie Hall. The orchestra then travels to Europe for a four-concert tour under the baton of Valery Gergiev and with pianist Denis Matsuev. 

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To learn more about NYO-USAvisit carnegiehall.org/nyousa.
Like NYO-USA on Facebook at facebook.com/nyousa.
Follow NYO-USA on Twitter at #NYOUSA.
Follow NYO-USA on Weibo at weibo.com/nyousa.
See more from NYO-USA on YouTube at youtube.com/nyousa.

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National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America Founding Sponsor: Bloomberg Philanthropies

Founder Patrons: Blavatnik Family Foundation; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation; Ronald O. Perelman; Robertson Foundation; Robert F. Smith; Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon; and Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation.

Major Tour Sponsors: Sir David Tang; Wailian Overseas Consulting Group, Limited; and PwC

Additional funding has been provided by the Jack Benny Family Foundation for Music Education; and Andrew and Margaret Paul.

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


Image at top of release by Chris Lee. Pictured, left to right: Brent Proseus, Trumpet; Ethan Shrier, Trombone; Nivanthi Karunaratne, Horn; Matthew Gajda, Trumpet; Ethan Clemmitt, Tuba. Not Pictured: Henry Whitaker, Trumpet; Anthony Brattoli, Tuba. 

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