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NYO-USA and NYO2: What to Look Forward To

As the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) and NYO2 begin their residencies at Purchase College, SUNY, we asked musicians what they’re most looking forward to this summer. Below are some of their answers.


Cabrera, Kayla (Viola)

For the past four months, I've had several countdown calendars for NYO-USA posted around my house. Each day, I’ve watched the number get lower and lower. I cannot believe that in less than three short weeks, NYO-USA will begin! I am so very excited to meet everybody and to learn all I can from the amazing and inspiring faculty and my peers.

In particular, I am looking forward to the tour of Europe. Since age 12, it has been my dream to visit Amsterdam, as I am fascinated with World War II history and the life of Anne Frank. I also have an interest in European languages and enjoy learning as much as I can about them in my free time.

It is truly a dream come true to be able to work with two of my musical heroes—maestros Gergiev and Eschenbach—and to have the opportunity to visit Europe!

—Kayla Cabrera, Viola, NYO-USA

Rios-Babilonia, Rafniel (Trumpet)

During NYO2, I expect to learn a lot and meet younger musicians like me. I want to keep growing as a musician this summer … and take advantage of this new stage in my life. Another reason why this will be a good experience is because I have to lose my fear to speak English because it’s not my primary language. I want to work hard to make a difference. Finally, I hope that this experience helps me a lot in my future.

—Rafniel E. Rios, Trumpet, NYO2

Chung, Ryan (Cello)

As an avid traveler, I have been to most of the cities that we will be visiting during our time in Europe. However, I am most looking forward to revisiting these places as a performer because this provides another dimension to my experience. While traveling allows for contact with the culture and spirit of a country, I feel that performing will go even further and allow me to interact with the people of that country through the medium of music, which is a language that we all understand. It is an honor to go to different European countries because these are the roots of most of our classical repertoire. Also, I attend the Juilliard Pre-College, so the fact that I am surrounded by talented artists is patent. However, I believe that there is something extra magical about collaborating with people I’ve never met before from other parts of the United States. I love the sense of patriotism that will be instilled in us as a group because we will be able to visit Europe as ambassadors of music and develop chemistry, which is imperative to the success of an orchestra. I also can’t wait to wear the uniform!

—Ryan Chung, Cello, NYO-USA

Ingram, Redd (Bass)

I am most excited to join other achieving musicians from across the country at NYO-USA/NYO2. Being surrounded by other accomplished musicians is definitely one of the coolest and motivating things I have experienced, and it cultivates an incredible learning environment that is both competitive and supportive. Can’t wait!

—Redd C. Ingram, Bass, NYO2

Egan, Elizabeth (Apprentice Composer)

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I am most excited for this summer as a part of NYO-USA 2016. I am thrilled to be one of the first two composer apprentices. Being one of the first, however, has filled me with anticipation and nervousness. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing yet during my time with NYO-USA! This is nerve-wracking, but also very exciting, as I am excited to get to be part of something totally new and be a part of NYO-USA history. One challenge has been writing an entire orchestra piece in a short time, which will be read by NYO-USA during the residency at Purchase. What I am most excited for changes every day, but right now I am extremely excited to hear my piece and work with incredible young musicians my age. I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to not only have my work played, but also get to workshop with the orchestra. I’m very excited for this summer!

—Elizabeth Egan, Composing Apprentice, NYO-USA

Dinakar, Akshay (Violin)

There are just a few thrills in the tangible world that can compare to the elation one might feel upon receiving an invitation to attend Hogwarts. One of these priceless sensations is the firework of joy one experiences when they open an NYO-USA acceptance email—and as a member of the 2013, 2015, and now 2016 orchestra, I’ve been lucky enough to relish it three times.

NYO-USA is so much more than just an ordinary summer music camp. It’s a rhapsody in red, white, and blue; it’s a celebration of the future of classical music, manifested in the hundred or so dedicated young instrumentalists who are in for the journey of a lifetime as they embark on a crescendo of musical and personal growth over the course of an unforgettable month.

As a returning member, I know the flow of the program—the bright red pants; the democratic seating of the string sections; the hummingbird-like baton of Valery Gergiev; and the tsunami of nostalgia that floods the orchestra at the end of the every year’s tour, as members recollect the snapshot moments and freshly born friendships that highlighted their NYO-USA experience.

I’m saving extra space in my heart for this year’s tour—not only is it my last summer of eligibility, but NYO-USA 2016 is an opportunity to bring my relationship with the orchestra full circle. With the symbolic significance of Gergiev returning as our guest conductor as we tour Europe—the birthplace of classical music and the location of our inaugural-year tour—the stars and stripes seem to align perfectly. Now being one of the oldest members of the orchestra, this summer is my chance to pay it forward to the next generation of musicians—to welcome them into the NYO-USA family and help them, too, see the omnipresent magic and palpable inspiration that surrounds NYO-USA.

So I’m not just playing for my country this summer; every note that resonates from my violin will also be in honor of the past and present musicians who brought me into the NYO-USA family and wrote the story of my NYO-USA experience. While my time with the orchestra comes to an end after this summer, there’s an infinite collection of NYO-USA experiences that have yet to be written by future members ... and in the years to come, I can’t wait to be in the audience, watching those stories come to life.

—Akshay Dinakar, Violin, NYO-USA

Learn more about NYO-USA and NYO2.