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NYO-USA Musician Blogs: Josh Davidoff

The musicians of NYO-USA’s 2014 season travel to Purchase College, SUNY, tomorrow, making their way from 33 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. For the first time, NYO-USA will include two apprentices who will learn about the behind-the-scenes operation of an orchestra. Josh Davidoff, the apprentice orchestra manager, is one of our bloggers this summer. He hails from Evanston, Illinois.

When you walk into Carnegie Hall, you expect to hear great music. This much is a given—paying a reasonable chunk of change and dedicating the better part of an evening to a professional orchestra performance should mean the playing and the repertoire are both of high quality. However, outstanding musicians do not necessarily produce an outstanding performance on their own. The behind-the-scenes work of running an orchestra (let alone an orchestral tour) is complex. Supporting 120 outstanding musicians to play at their peak while traveling across the country requires forethought and a good deal of hard work.

This is where I come in. As NYO-USA’s inaugural apprentice orchestra manager, I will be touring with the ensemble to learn the craft of orchestra management. This encompasses quite a number of distinct disciplines. I’m excited to learn about everything from handling the successful travel of hundreds of people to working closely with classical luminaries, to—most importantly—empowering each player to have the best experience possible throughout the monthlong residency and tour.

I’m a classical music aficionado. I am extremely fortunate to live very close to Symphony Center in Chicago. I see many Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts with my friends. In fact, I recently saw a CSO performance of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which NYO-USA will perform this summer. The piece was nothing short of awe-inspiring, and I can’t even begin to comprehend the privilege of hearing that masterwork rehearsed and then performed by NYO-USA at so many distinguished concert halls.

For me, an interest in arts management started with a leadership role in my school’s student-run show this fall. As the music and orchestra director, I auditioned and selected a 20-piece pop orchestra, led a team of three composers to write more than 40 minutes of original music, and rehearsed and conducted the orchestra in preparation for seven October shows. This experience showed me that I very much enjoy the administrative as well as the creative side of music making. I learned to establish rapport with the musicians, and I used my organizational skills to make rehearsal more efficient, effective, and enjoyable for everyone involved. These skills will certainly be applicable this summer.

  NYO Staff MeetingThe 2013 NYO-USA staff meets to discuss the last minute details of that season’s tour during the orchestra’s dress rehearsal at the Kennedy Center. Josh joins this team in 2014 to learn about the operations of an orchestral tour.

What drew me specifically to NYO-USA was the chance to get to know the individuals who could be considered the future of classical music in the United States. I imagine the tour will encompass both the first and last times I get to see some of these immensely talented peers play without the need to make a withdrawal from my bank account.

With T-minus two days until the start of our Purchase College residency, packing my bags and saying goodbye to friends that I may not see again for a while (I’m heading off to college soon after the tour ends), I know only two things for sure:

1) This will be a life-changing month, and

2) I need to buy more socks.

Learn more about the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

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