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NYO-USA: An Inspiring Start

Carnegie Hall's Executive and Artistic Director, Clive Gillinson shares his excitement upon meeting the musicians of the inaugural National Youth Orchestra of the USA.

It's been a great thrill to meet the musicians of the inaugural National Youth Orchestra of the USA this week and to hear their first notes as they prepare to debut on the world stage.

Since the day I arrived at Carnegie Hall in 2005, we've talked about what it would mean to create a national youth orchestra for the United States. Given the depth of musical talent in the US and the strong tradition of excellence in so many youth orchestras across the country, I could not believe that an ensemble like this didn't already exist. As we've worked to make it a reality, we've developed a program that is designed to shine a spotlight on the remarkable young players across the US, offering them a unique opportunity to train at a professional level, while also serving as cultural ambassadors for their country, connecting with people around the world through their passion for music.

CliveNYOGBsm (left, with glasses) Executive and Artistic Director, Clive Gillinson, a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in 1965.

Like many of the team involved in creating and launching this program, playing in a youth orchestra in my teens was one of the greatest and most influential experiences of my life. As a young cellist, I played in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. I'll never forget the day when we sat down together for the first time as a full orchestra and played the opening notes of the Brahms second symphony-I had never heard a sound like it! I vividly remember being unable to play a note for the first ten minutes, totally overcome with emotion and overwhelmed to be a part of this extraordinary experience. Luckily not all the players had the same reaction, or we really would have started disastrously! It was also inspiring to work with so many remarkable people, all of whom cared so deeply about music. Many of the friends I made in the orchestra became friends for life. Some, like me, continued on to become professional musicians whilst others went on to become doctors,mathematicians, scientists or to pursue other professions. However, for all of us the National Youth Orchestra was a central influence in defining our way forward for the rest of our lives.

As we look ahead, I hope that the coming days will be just as meaningful and unforgettable for the musicians of NYO-USA, filled with culturally and personally rich experiences. We're grateful for the great dedication of our orchestra director Jim Ross and of all our faculty, wonderful professional players who have come from across the country to coach and share their expertise, helping to shape the orchestra. We'll soon be welcoming Valery Gergiev and Joshua Bell to the orchestra's campus at Purchase and we're beyond thrilled that they have both agreed to join us as we set out on this musical adventure together. We're off to a fantastic start and we can't wait to introduce the music-making of NYO-USA to concertgoers around the world.

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