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NYO-USA 2020

The 110 musicians of the 2020 National Youth Orchestra of the USA convened online for an intensive two-week program in July 2020, as they were unable to meet in person due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using digital tools such as Zoom and Google Classroom, each player had the opportunity for extensive interaction with NYO-USA’s outstanding faculty of musicians from America’s leading orchestras: a private lesson each week as well as several sectionals, studio and master classes, and more informal discussions. The full orchestra also met regularly for sessions led by Orchestra Director James Ross. Built around Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which had been planned as part of NYO-USA’s original tour program, the series of workshops aimed to give students tools to engage with any piece of repertoire. Topics ranged from score study and listening to clapping, singing, conducting, and improvising on sections of the piece. Dancer Terese Capucilli (who created The Chosen One for Martha Graham’s staging of The Rite of Spring) introduced elements of the ballet’s choreography to students and encouraged them to experience the work through movement as a way to unlock greater freedom in their playing.

All 2020 participants in Carnegie Hall’s three national youth ensembles also had the chance to join a number of online discussion sessions and special events. These included a Q&A with Wynton Marsalis, a workshop (and impromptu mini-concert) by Jacob Collier, two panels on college auditions and digital tools to enhance practice led by Fellows of the New World Symphony, as well as sessions on new music, careers in music education, and orchestra administration. A panel of NYO-USA alumni working professionally in the orchestral world also shared their experiences and answered questions. Alumni offered students individual mentoring sessions and led organized social activities for students across NYO-USA, NYO2 and NYO Jazz.

NYO-USA participated in two imaginatively conceived virtual performances with each musician recording their part at home, featuring selections from Valerie Coleman’s Umoja and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. These performances, directed by Emmy Award winner Habib Azar, were released online through Carnegie Hall’s and NYO-USA’s social media channels as well as in a live stream event in December 2020 that recapped the entire set of virtual orchestral performances from NYO-USA and NYO2.

NYO-USA Performance Videos

NYO-USA 2020 Performs an Excerpt from Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja”

This orchestral version of “Umoja” was commissioned by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra. “Umoja” means “unity” in Swahili—a feeling NYO-USA hoped to express in this performance despite being unable to meet and play together in person due to COVID-19. The 110 members of NYO-USA 2020—extraordinary teen instrumentalists ages 16–19 and representing 41 US states—were selected for an all-digital program following a comprehensive and highly selective audition process.


VALERIE COLEMAN Excerpt from Umoja
STRAVINSKY Excerpts from The Rite of Spring

Meet the Orchestra



Myles Bell
West Chester, PA +
Lauren Bensaid
Parker, CO
Kristy Chen
Princeton Junction, NJ
Melody Choi
San Jose, CA +
Katrina Chou
Cupertino, CA
Mason Crowder
Knoxville, TN
Andre Daniel
Dallas, TX
Andrew DeWeese
Charlotte, NC
Brandon Du
Ellicott City, MD
Gabriel Fedak
Dallas, TX
Dylan Hamme
Leonia, NJ
Aaron Hsia
Santa Clara, CA
Annika Hsu
Vienna, VA *
Henry Ingels
Norman, OK
Ruth Kelley
Winston-Salem, NC *
Elliot Kim
Austin, TX
Hannah Kim
Newport Beach, CA
Kyuna Kim
Vestavia Hills, AL *
Sabrina Kim
Sunnyvale, CA
Eliana Lee
Bedford Corners, NY +
Rachel Mugemancuro
Los Angeles, CA
Annabella Paolucci
West Palm Beach, FL
Jina Park
Lexington, KY *
Matthew Sakiyama
Millbrae, CA +
Tyler Tan
Cheshire, CT +
Julia Wang
Sunnyvale, CA *
Zoe Willingham
Atlanta, GA
Roger Xia
Davis, CA *
Sein Yun
Irvine, CA
Sylvan Zhang
Stillwater, OK *


Kelly Avila
Norton Shores, MI
Lawrence Chai
Mount Sinai, NY +
Peirce Ellis
Philadelphia, PA +
Joshua Halberstadt
Framingham, MA
Dorothy Junginger
West Des Moines, IA
Benjamin Martz
Perrysburg, OH
Lourdes Pinney
Henderson, NV
Marion Pope
Winter Park, FL
Philip Rawlinson
Greenville, SC
Daniel Simmons
Queens, NY +
Lia Stallmann
Houston, TX
Elissa Volling
Denver, CO *
Carlos Walker
Saint Petersburg, FL
Sanford Whatley
Tenafly, NJ


Nathaniel Abreu
Somerville, MA
Sergey Blinov
Baltimore, MD
Andrew Do
Irvine, CA +
Colin Hill
Vienna, VA
Meagan Hipsky
Guilford, IN
Audrey Jellett
Kerrville, TX
Sophia Knappe
Raleigh, NC
Aiden Krogh
Grand Forks, ND +
Will Rawlinson
Greenville, SC
Kevin Song
San Diego, CA *
Dylan Shih Wu
Manhasset, NY


Noah Daniel
Powder Springs, GA
Sophie Denhard
Seattle, WA
Catherine Deskur
Vestal, NY + *
Dustin Hobin
Gainesville, NY
Eliot Lee
Seattle, WA *
Tim Rinehart
Chapel Hill, NC *
Evan Tsai
Baton Rouge, LA



Joshua Arce
Salem, OR
Laura Futamura
Middletown, NJ + *
Sasha Hitachi-Kizziah
Chattanooga, TN +
Amy Hwang
West Friendship, MD


Corinne Foley
Rockville, MD
Coleton G. Morgan
Hartville, WY +
Kara Poling
Reisterstown, MD + *
Jacks Pollard
Chattanooga, TN
Ben Price
Portland, OR


Adam Kuhn
San Antonio, TX
Juliyan Martinez
Powder Springs, GA
Anoush Pogossian
Glendale, CA + *
Bram Schenck
Seattle, WA
Cole Turkel
Los Angeles, CA +


Asha Kline
Ellicott City, MD +
Donovan Neal
Arlington, TX
William Ramos
Palm Harbor, FL +
Samuel Watson
Jacksonville, FL



Hugo Bliss
Seattle, WA *
Donovan McManus
Carrollton, TX
Christine Ott
Rochester, NY
Andre Richter
Greenville, NC
Carys Sutherland
Southlake, TX *
Sara Vollenweider
New Orleans, LA +


Jeremy Bryant
Tucson, AZ
Ben J. D'Haiti
Oakton, VA
Gabriel Ortiz
San Marcos, TX + *
Daichi Sakai
Torrance, CA
Cody York
Canterbury, NH


Eli Canales
San Antonio, TX +
Griffin Rupp
Corpus Christi, TX
Naomi Wharry
Idabel, OK

Bass Trombone

Rafael Noriega
Chicago, IL +


Jake Alford
Lexington, KY
Benito Vargas
Highland, NY


Timpani and Percussion

Dillon Akerman
Mansfield, TX
Serena Bangia
Buffalo, NY *
Sean Edwards
Chicago, IL +
AJ Hudson
Denver, CO
Patrick Sorah
Jefferson, GA


Apprentice Composer

Olivia Bennett
Springfield, MO
Maxwell Lu
Dayton, MD

Apprentice Orchestra Manager

Joy Best
Alpharetta, GA

Apprentice Orchestra Librarian

Anna Kruse
Huron, SD

NYO-USA 2020 Faculty

Carlos Miguel Prieto, 2020 Guest Conductor
James Ross, Orchestra Director
Joseph Young, Resident Conductor

Ying Fu, Associate Concertmaster, National Symphony Orchestra
Alex Kerr, Concertmaster, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Lauren Roth, Concertmaster, Tucson Symphony Orchestra
CarlaMaria Rodrigues, Principal Viola, San Francisco Opera
Mark Kosower, Principal Cello, The Cleveland Orchestra
Robin Kesselman, Principal Bass, Houston Symphony

Seth Morris, Principal Flute, The MET Orchestra
Erica Peel, Piccolo and Flute, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Robert Walters, Solo English Horn, The Cleveland Orchestra
Alex Laing, Principal Clarinet, Phoenix Symphony
Shannon Orme, Bass Clarinet and Clarinet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Lori Wike, Principal Bassoon, Utah Symphony

William VerMeulen, Principal Horn, Houston Symphony
Karin Bliznik, Principal Trumpet, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Matthew Vaughn, Co-Principal Trombone, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Craig Knox, Principal Tuba, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Jauvon Gilliam, Principal Timpani, National Symphony Orchestra
Don Liuzzi, Principal Timpani, The Philadelphia Orchestra
Marc Damoulakis, Principal Percussion, The Cleveland Orchestra 

Additional Guest Faculty

Erik Behr, Principal Oboe, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
Leon Chodos, Contrabassoon and Associate Principal Bassoon, Utah Symphony

Lead Donors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Kovner Foundation, Beatrice Santo Domingo, and Nicola and Beatrice Bulgari.

Global Ambassadors: Michael ByungJu Kim and Kyung Ah Park, Hope and Robert F. Smith, and Maggie and Richard Tsai.

United Airlines

Major funding has been provided by the Mercedes T. Bass Charitable Corporation, Ronald E. Blaylock and Petra Pope, Lorraine Buch Fund for Young Artists, Estate of Joan Eliasoph, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the A.E. Charitable Foundation, Clive and Anya Gillinson, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Marc Haas Foundation, The Carl Jacobs Foundation, Melanie and Jean E. Salata, JMCMRJ Sorrell Foundation, and Joyce and George Wein Foundation, Inc, and United Airlines, Airline Partner to the National Youth Ensembles.

Additional funding has been provided by the Alphadyne Foundation, Sarah Arison, The Jack Benny Family Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Mary Anne Huntsman Morgan and The Huntsman Foundation, IAC, Stella and Robert Jones, Martha and Robert Lipp, Lauren and Ezra Merkin, Beth and Joshua Nash, The Netherland-America Foundation, The Morton H. Meyerson Family Foundation, Linda Wachner, David S. Winter, and Judy Francis Zankel.

Blavatnik Family Foundation

Founder Patrons: Blavatnik Family Foundation; Nicola and Beatrice Bulgari; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation; The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation; Ronald O. Perelman; Robertson Foundation; Beatrice Santo Domingo; Hope and Robert F. Smith; Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon; and Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation.

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