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NYO-USA: “It Happened”

Last month, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) completed a whirlwind concert tour of Europe, visiting Amsterdam, Montpellier, Copenhagen, and Prague. Violinist Nicholas Kim recalls one special morning in Copenhagen, after returning home to Maryland.

It used to be a merchant's port. And in Danish tongue, that simple, two-word description stands paradoxically as the name of a fantastically vibrant city: Copenhagen, the second to last stop of our tour. Having spent time in Amsterdam and Montpellier beforehand, the novel atmosphere of “European exploration” had since dissipated for many. Yet in its place, a more intimate connection and sense of wonder surfaced. Already, the end our tour approached with alarming—even frightening—speed, and perhaps it was this that cast a slight shadow of melancholy over the whole of events. Rather than the vigor of fresh, foreign intrigue, we held a hope for profundity ... profundity that would last well past the numbered days we had together.

NYO Nicholas Kim blog 2   NYO Nicholas Kim blog 1
NYO Nicholas Kim blog 3

On the morning of our concert in the Tivoli Gardens, there was collective agreement among my friends to enjoy an aimless bike ride. We had no destination and no goal other than to enrapture ourselves in the recesses of a city that we only knew by name. After awaking uncharacteristically early around 8:45 AM, I hurried down with the others to rent bikes from the hotel. And then we were off, enjoying the scenic views of pristine waterways, historic architecture, and cool breeze that beat hotel air-conditioning any day of the week. After turning off the main road and venturing through some back alleys, we eventually wound up at a park. Green is the only word I'd use to describe it, and it was a different green than so much of what I'd seen before. Trees lined the central paths in flawless arrangement, and meticulously maintained grass blanketed the grounds. The visible hues were inexplicably alive, setting the perfect mood. Leaving our bikes at the entrance, we all took a moment to rest, walking around slowly, ensuring that we took proper time to appreciate our surroundings. It was a moment of gravity, made heavier by its plainness. A short while later, we resumed our bike-led exploration, and every new turn and every clearing brought with it excitement. We found sculptures, enjoyed bubble tea, got separated when half the group made a wrong turn, posed for an embarrassing photo by a waterfront, and also miraculously ended up on the same street we had dinner at the night before. It was just in time to share ice cream to the tunes of a street-performing clarinetist before heading back.

I woke up today to the sound of my brother making lunch. There's no 8:15 bus call, or plans to venture to a city, or rehearsal with Gergiev, or concert in the evening in front of a sold-out crowd. There's only a house and a long summer day. It's exactly the same here as before I left, one tremendously long time ago at the end of June. Everything is calm, there's plenty of silence, and an overwhelmingly lazy atmosphere hangs over. The “you” who just went on the adventure of a lifetime feels like an entirely different “you” than the one who’s at home now, and I could almost joke to myself that it was all just a dream, that it never happened. And as easy as that is to believe, then you look at the pictures, the lifelong friends, the experiences, and the places you've been. And you're proud to say, “It happened.”

Nicholas Kim, violin

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

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