Frequently Asked Questions
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Who, What, When, Where, and How
Who can be part of NYO Jazz?
NYO Jazz is open to US citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) from all backgrounds. You must be between the ages of 16 and 19 during the summer of your participation. For 2021 this means your birthdate must be between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2005 without exception. Participation in NYO Jazz is limited to high school students within the age range above. You must be enrolled in high school or the equivalent level of homeschooling during the 2020–2021 academic year to be eligible for the 2021 NYO Jazz program. Gap-year students who graduated from high school in 2020 (or earlier) are not eligible.
What is NYO Jazz?
NYO Jazz is a program for musicians ages 16–19 created by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute, building on the success of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA and NYO2. Since 2018, a group of the country's most gifted young jazz musicians each summer come together to interact with each other, learn from an all-star faculty, play under the direction of a celebrated bandleader and with major guest artists, and give concerts at some of the leading international festivals and venues. Members of NYO Jazz are musical ambassadors on an international stage, sharing a uniquely American musical genre, representing your home school/ensemble, your state/region, and your country.
When is the program?
NYO Jazz is a summer program, scheduled each year for three to four weeks between late June and early August depending on the tour destination and itinerary. Specific arrival and departure information will be announced at a later date. Because of the intensive nature of the program, no absences for any part of this period are permitted.
What music will NYO Jazz perform?
NYO Jazz will showcase the tremendous reach of American music through the lens of jazz. From early swing to hip-hop, the big band has been the canvas on which much of America’s music is presented. A broad range of charts that cover several decades and show the evolution of the big band from swing-era like classics like Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” to the buoyant rhythms of Common will be explored.
Where does the NYO Jazz training residency take place?
NYO Jazz is in residence at Purchase College, SUNY, for the initial part of the program. Located in Westchester County, 30 miles north of New York City on 550 scenic acres, Purchase College has outstanding rehearsal and practice facilities, including a conservatory music building and a highly regarded, multi-venue performing arts center. Musicians live in campus housing and meals are provided by the College Dining Service.
Where will the ensemble tour?
NYO Jazz tours to a different part of the world each year, following a kick-off concert at Carnegie Hall. The debut tour in 2018, with Dianne Reeves as guest artist, took NYO Jazz to London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and Berlin, among other cities. In 2019, NYO Jazz performed with vocalist Kurt Elling in Taichung, Beijing, Shanghai, Zhuhai, and Hong Kong.
Will NYO Jazz play at Carnegie Hall?
Yes, NYO Jazz will perform annually in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage before embarking on its tour.
How do I apply?
Please see application instructions.
How will my application be evaluated?
Applications will be reviewed based on the applicant's technical ability, musicianship, passion, willingness to collaborate, intellectual curiosity, willingness to travel, and social and emotional maturity. As a national ensemble, NYO Jazz expects to include a broad range of highly qualified participants from across the country to reflect the exceptional diversity of the United States.
Are there any exceptions to the age requirement?
All 2020 NYO Jazz participants are eligible to apply to NYO Jazz 2021 regardless of age or grade level due to the absence of in-person programming in 2020.
Otherwise, you must be between the ages of 16 and 19, within the specified range of birth dates, during the summer of your intended participation.
Are there positions for my instrument?
NYO Jazz will comprise a versatile big band of up to 25 players, including a double rhythm section that will rotate or play with smaller combos. Musicians may apply on the following instruments: flute*, clarinet*, saxophone (alto, tenor, and baritone), trumpet, trombone (tenor and bass), piano, bass, guitar, and drums.
*Flute and clarinet auditions will be accepted from players who specialize on those instruments, but positions in NYO Jazz will only be offered to exceptional candidates. There will be opportunities for musicians who double on those instruments to be featured as well.
May I apply on more than one instrument?
Yes, but a separate application is required for each instrument. Please note that if you are a saxophone player who doubles on flute or clarinet / bass clarinet, there is no need to submit a separate application. However, must submit examples for each doubling instrument listed on your application.
Will I be able to participate in NYO Jazz more than once?
Yes, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements. Please note that all players are required to re-apply and submit a new audition video each year.
Why are temporary US visa holders ineligible for NYO Jazz?
As a national ensemble, NYO Jazz is designed for young musicians who have a permanent and ongoing connection to the United States of America. Additionally, because of the nature of international touring and restrictions on the issuance of foreign-country visas to temporary residents of the US, all NYO Jazz members must have permanent residency status in the United States.
My video recordings are not professional quality. Will this hurt my chances?
No. We understand that most applicants are not in a position to provide a professional video recording, and our goal is to make this program accessible to all who wish to apply. As long you are clearly visible and audible, your audition will be judged on its musical merits and not on its production values. Many auditions, including numerous successful auditions to NYO-USA and NYO2, have been recorded using basic home video equipment or consumer electronics, including smartphones.
Is it preferred that I audition with accompaniment / rhythm section backing?
No. As noted in the audition requirements, you are welcome to perform unaccompanied; the audition panel is interested in your own playing and musicianship. Where applicable, you are welcome to play with prerecorded rhythm tracks or with live accompaniment, but neither is expected. For applicable audition requirements, you are also welcome to submit a live performance that clearly demonstrates your abilities.
What type of editing of my audition is permitted?
For each tune/example required for your instrument, your video must be a complete unedited take without any cuts, splices, pitch correction, audio enhancement, or other alternation of the performance. You are welcome to choose the best take from among several that you record. If preferred, audio and video may be recorded to separate devices and synced, but they must be from the same take.
You also may submit an appropriate excerpt from a live performance, but each excerpt should be unedited and one continuous performance segment.
The addition of graphics to your audition is permitted (but entirely optional) as long as the performances themselves remain unedited, as described above.
Do both of my references need to be musicians?
No, but one of them should be. While general music teachers, jazz ensemble directors, or private instructors are all acceptable as musical references, an academic instructor or other non-music reference may be invited as well.
Are we required to submit three references?
No, only two are required. If you feel a third reference may be able to add a different perspective to your application, you are welcome to include one.
May I send additional information about musical and/or personal accomplishments after the application deadline?
We are unable to consider any supplemental application materials received once the application has closed, since the review process begins immediately after the deadline.
Guest Artists and Faculty
Who is the artistic leader of NYO Jazz?
Trumpet player Sean Jones—one of the field’s outstanding performer-composer-educators—served as soloist and bandleader for NYO Jazz’s Carnegie Hall debut and inaugural European tour, and the tour of Asia in 2019. Jones returns as artistic adviser and bandleader in the summer of 2021, leading the group during its residency at Purchase College, SUNY, and on tour.
Who are the faculty for NYO Jazz?
Musical preparation during the NYO Jazz residency will be overseen by trumpeter Sean Jones, who will lead the full ensemble in all rehearsals. Working with individual instrument groups will be a dream-team of the top jazz performers from around the world, who will coach sectional and combo rehearsals and share perspectives on their lives as professional musicians. The 2021 faculty will be announced early next year. Visit the NYO Jazz Guest Artists page to view the 2020 faculty.
What else can I expect as part of my NYO Jazz experience?
NYO Jazz is focused on big-band performance, but participating musicians will have the chance to play (and perform) in smaller combos and will receive small group / individual instruction. At Purchase College and on tour, there will be social and recreational time, opportunities for peer-to-peer exchange and sightseeing, and the chance to attend other live music performances.
Are there any fees or costs to me associated with NYO Jazz?
NYO Jazz is a tuition-free program for all musicians. The program provides room and board during the residency and covers all expenses related to instructional, rehearsal, performance, and tour activities (including tour-related visa costs, airfares, and other transportation, as well as hotels, meals, and group sightseeing).
There is an application fee of $30, payable online at the time you complete your application. Additionally, accepted applicants will be responsible for arranging their own travel to and from the New York City area at the start and conclusion of the program, and for the costs of obtaining/renewing their passport.
For those applicants who demonstrate substantial financial need, the application fee may be waived upon completion of a waiver request form. Carnegie Hall staff will respond to waiver requests within 10 business days of the receipt of a completed form and provide further instructions to applicants whose requests are approved. The deadline for completion of applications, with or without a fee waiver, for summer 2021 is January 21, 2021.
Financial aid is also be available to successful applicants for whom the travel costs associated with participation in NYO Jazz present a financial hardship. Additional details will be available upon acceptance.
Lead Donors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Kovner Foundation, and Beatrice Santo Domingo.
Global Ambassadors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, and Maggie and Richard Tsai.
Major support has been provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Clive and Anya Gillinson, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon, and Joyce and George Wein Foundation, Inc.
Additional support has been provided by Sarah Arison, Bank of America.