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NYO-USA: A New Addition

In launching NYO2, Carnegie Hall is doing its part to ensure that the classical-music ecosystem remains healthy and sustainable in the long run. Another aspect of this effort is an expanded apprentice program for NYO-USA. This year, two apprentice composers will participate in the program, joining two apprentice conductors, an apprentice orchestra manager, and an apprentice librarian.

Egan, Elizabeth (Apprentice Composer)

Elizabeth Egan, age 17, is a rising composer and bassoonist from New York City. A participant in the New York Youth Symphony’s composition program and a student in Juilliard’s Pre-College Division, she has written an array of chamber and orchestral music, including a short piece called Wanderlost, which the New York Philharmonic premiered last January on a series of Young People’s Concerts™ for Schools.

Elizabeth describes herself as “a big fan” of composer Sean Shepherd, who will be mentoring her during NYO-USA. (His Magiya was a highlight of the orchestra’s inaugural season.) Like Shepherd, she pays close attention to timbres, colors, and sonorities. In her new piece for NYO-USA, she aims to create a “unique sound world” inspired by a trip she took to St. John in the US Virgin Islands when she was in fifth grade.

“Since I’m writing for people I’ll get to know well during my residency, I want to make sure everyone really enjoys playing the piece,” Elizabeth says, adding that she is particularly pleased to be workshopping the piece with her peers. “The level of NYO-USA is high, so I am trying to approach writing for it as I would for a professional orchestra.”

Russo, Ethan (Apprentice Orchestra Librarian)

Ethan Russo occupies a less visible, but no less important, niche in the orchestral ecosystem. As NYO-USA’s apprentice librarian, the 18-year-old from Austin, Texas, will help to ensure that the music of Elizabeth Egan and her fellow composers is on the performers’ stands when the stage lights go up, with every page in order and every part in its appointed place.

“When you’re a musician,” he says, “you don’t want to have to think about setting up the stage, or making sure that your music is from the right edition or for the right instrument or in the right clef—you just want to worry about making music. That’s where people like orchestra librarians come in. They make it possible for the musicians to focus on making music.”

Although Ethan admits that he’ll probably never make the grade as a violinist, he is passionate about classical music and scores. “At heart, I’m a listener. I love getting caught up in the melodies, listening for the hidden voices in music.” He describes himself as a “behind-the-scenes” musician who has no qualms about playing a supporting role. “One thing that the NYO-USA experience has taught me—even before the program has started—is that a person can be involved in making music in more ways than one.”

—Harry Haskell

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