Performance Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8 PM

National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America makes its Carnegie Hall debut in an electrifying program that begins with Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, a great American work that pulses with fiery rhythms but also includes some of the most tender love music ever written. The orchestra is then joined by Gil Shaham for Britten's Violin Concerto, an intense and virtuosic work written on the eve of World War II. Samuel Adams's innovative style is on display in Radial Play, a new work commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and Mussorgsky's perennial favorite Pictures at an Exhibition concludes the program.


  • National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America
  • David Robertson, Conductor
  • Gil Shaham, Violin


  • BERNSTEIN Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
  • BRITTEN Violin Concerto, Op. 15
  • SAMUEL ADAMS Radial Play (commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)


  • National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America

    Each summer, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute brings together 120 of the brightest young musicians, ages 16-19, from across the country to form the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA). Following a comprehensive audition process and a two-week training residency at Purchase College, SUNY, with faculty made up of principal players from top American orchestras, these remarkable teenagers embark on a tour to some of the great music capitals of the world, serving as dynamic musical ambassadors. Launched in summer 2013 to great critical acclaim, the first-ever NYO-USA presented concerts with conductor Valery Gergiev and violinist Joshua Bell in Washington, DC; Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia; and at the BBC Proms in London.

    The 2014 orchestra-with members hailing from 35 states plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, and featuring 24 returning musicians from the inaugural season-traveled to New York in early July to begin their training with section leaders from America's greatest professional orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and National Symphony Orchestra. James Ross, director of orchestral activities at the University of Maryland, returned this summer to lead the NYO-USA faculty for a second year.

    This eight-city, coast-to-coast US tour introduces concertgoers across the country to the extraordinary music-making of their nation's very own national youth orchestra. In summer 2015, members of NYO-USA will add more stamps to their passports as the ensemble makes its first tour to China.

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  • David Robertson

    A consummate musician, masterful programmer, and dynamic presence, David Robertson has established himself as one of today's most sought-after American conductors. A passionate and compelling communicator with an extensive knowledge of orchestral and operatic repertoire, he has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world through his exhilarating music making and stimulating ideas. In fall 2013, Mr. Robertson launched his ninth season as music director of the 134-year-old St. Louis Symphony. In January 2014, he assumed the post of chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia.

    In 2012-2013, Mr. Robertson led the St. Louis Symphony on two major tours: his first European tour with the orchestra-its first European engagements since 1998-in fall 2012, which included critically acclaimed appearances at London's BBC Proms, at the Berlin and Lucerne festivals, and at Paris's Salle Pleyel; and a spring 2013 California tour that included a three-day residency at the University of California, Davis, and performances at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and venues in Costa Mesa, Palm Desert, and Santa Barbara.

    Mr. Robertson is a frequent guest conductor with major orchestras and opera houses around the world. In the 2013-2014 season, he conducted the new production of Nico Muhly's Two Boys at the Metropolitan Opera and appeared with orchestras that included the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In past seasons, he has appeared nationally with the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras; and internationally with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Sydney and Melbourne symphony orchestras, among others.

    With more than 50 operas in his repertoire, Mr. Robertson has appeared at many of the world's most prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Opéra de Lyon, Bavarian State Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet, Hamburg State Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Opera.

    Born in Santa Monica, California, Mr. Robertson was educated at London's Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting. Mr. Robertson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.

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  • Gil Shaham

    Gil Shaham is one of the foremost violinists of our time. His combination of flawless technique and inimitable warmth has solidified his legacy as an American master. Highlights of his 2013-2014 season included performances of Korngold's Violin Concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, The Cleveland Orchestra, and Orchestre de Paris; a continuation of his exploration of the concertos of the 1930s with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and on tour with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; the world, Asian, and European premieres of a new concerto by Bright Sheng; and a recital tour that featured Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin.

    Mr. Shaham has more than two dozen concerto and solo CDs to his name, including bestsellers that have appeared on record charts in the US and abroad, winning him multiple Grammy Awards, a Grand Prix du Disque, a Diapason d'Or, and a Gramophone Editor's Choice award. His recent recordings are produced by the Canary Classics label, which he founded in 2004; they comprise Nigunim: Hebrew Melodies, Haydn violin concertos and Mendelssohn's Octet with the Sejong Soloists, Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works, Elgar's Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Butterfly Lovers and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A Minor with Yefim Bronfman and Truls Mørk, The Prokofiev Album, The Fauré Album, Mozart in Paris, and works by Haydn and Mendelssohn.

    Mr. Shaham was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1990, and in 2008 he received the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. He plays the 1699 "Countess Polignac" Stradivarius. He lives in New York City with his wife, violinist Adele Anthony, and their three children.

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At a Glance

LEONARD BERNSTEIN  Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

West Side Story, first produced on Broadway in 1957, is universally recognized as a landmark in the history of American musical theater. After an initial run of 732 performances, it returned to the Great White Way for the first of many revivals in 1960, the same year in which Leonard Bernstein invited the show’s orchestrators to extract a concert suite from his score.

BENJAMIN BRITTEN  Violin Concerto, Op. 15

Completed in 1939, the Violin Concerto is among the fruits of Benjamin Britten’s three-year sojourn in the United States and Canada. A pacifist, the young British composer had abandoned his homeland as the clouds of war gathered over Europe. Critical reception of the concerto was generally favorable, with Irving Kolodin of the New York Sun praising Britten’s somberly lyrical score as “personal, heartfelt, communicative.” 


Widely acclaimed acoustic and electroacoustic composer Samuel Adams draws from his experiences in a diverse array of fields, including noise and electronic music, jazz, and field recording. Radial Play, a new work commissioned by Carnegie Hall and dedicated to the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, is a complex, interwoven exploration of counterpoint that stretches the capabilities of the orchestra.

MODEST MUSSORGSKY  Pictures at an Exhibition

Modest Mussorgsky’s highly individual voice was long obscured by well-meaning editors and fellow composers who considered his unconventional harmonies and orchestrations crude. Pictures at an Exhibition—a suite of vividly drawn tonal sketches inspired by an exhibition of artworks by the composer’s friend Viktor Hartmann—was originally written for piano. However, it is best known in the masterful orchestration that Maurice Ravel made in 1922.

Program Notes

To learn more about the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, go to


National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America Lead Sponsor: Bloomberg

Founder Patrons: Blavatnik Family Foundation; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation; Robertson Foundation; Robert F. Smith; and Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon.

Lead Donors: Ronald O. Perelman and Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation.

Additional funding has been provided by the Blavatnik Family Foundation; Yoko Nagae Ceschina; The Rockefeller Foundation; The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; and Ann Ziff.

Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Funding for the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast series is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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