Youth Orchestra of the Americas: Comprised of 100 Gifted Young Musicians, Ages 18-30, the YOA Orchestra of the Americas Teaches Artistic Excellence and Inspires Its Members to Create Their Own Music Education Programs

By Weir, Katarina | Americas (English Edition), November-December 2011 | Go to article overview

Youth Orchestra of the Americas: Comprised of 100 Gifted Young Musicians, Ages 18-30, the YOA Orchestra of the Americas Teaches Artistic Excellence and Inspires Its Members to Create Their Own Music Education Programs


Weir, Katarina, Americas (English Edition)


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Founded in 2001 by New England Conservatory and Vision, Inc., the YOA Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) was inspired by the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela, which was created by Jose Antonio Abreu with the mission of bringing together energetic, talented musicians to pursue excellence and celebrate cultural diversity as a catalyst for social change.

Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's Ambassador to the United States, puts it this way: "YOA represents a unique opportunity for young musicians from the Western Hemisphere to learn from the best in a multicultural environment and to become members of a very important network of support. Through its performances and educational activities, YOA not only helps its members discover new horizons and expand the boundaries of their artistic and professional possibilities, but it also represents a source of inspiration to the musicians, students, and indeed, all of us with whom they interact during their tours."

The impact of YOA extends beyond its concert performances in many directions:

* Participants return to their native countries to share experiences and knowledge with their communities, thereby increasing classical music appreciation and harnessing the power of music for social purposes.

* YOA is a model for music education programs in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, the United States, and Uruguay.

* YOA trains musicians as teaching artists and musical ambassadors. Conductors and guest artists serve as role models and set an example of community service. On every tour, the Orchestra leads music-education programs for those who have little access to a symphony or to proficient teachers. In side-by-side performances with professional orchestras, YOA musicians sit with seasoned players and are mentored by a leader in their field.

* Leadership skills are received and transferred back to the local community in meaningful ways as YOA musicians go beyond the bounds of the classical genre to share their art with the world.

* YOA connects musicians to institutions of higher learning and to professional job opportunities, directly impacting their career path.

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YOA in 2010/2011

YOA has performed more than 200 concerts since its 2002 Inaugural Tour. Settings have ranged from the most prestigious concert halls of Europe and the Americas, to outdoor venues not often associated with symphonic music. Over 8 million people have been reached through live performances, television and radio broadcasts, CD recordings, print media, and documentary films.

The past two years exemplify the progress YOA has made in developing its programs. It has expanded its reach considerably in this time, leveraging YOA's reputation of artistic excellence, its unique operating model, and its network of contacts.

In February 2010, the World Economic Forum and its Forum of Young Global Leaders invited YOA to perform at Carnegie Hall. Sixty YOA musicians were joined on stage by musicians from the Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory in a sold-out performance with superstar guest artists Joshua Bell, Julian Rachlin, and Valery Gergiev.

That same year, in July, YOA presented at the Biennial of the Americas in Denver and was featured on NPR radio. From June to August, it did a 24-concert tour of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, featuring performances with Joshua Bell and other special guests. Philip Glass served as Composer in Residence. In October, the YOA gave two concerts in Santo Domingo (at the Teatro Colon and the Plaza Espana) sponsored by the Foreign Ministry of the Dominican Republic and Fundacion Sinfonia, in celebration of Santo Domingo's naming as the 2010 Cultural Capital of the Americas. Soloists included the winners of the Santander International Piano Competition.

Early this year, YOA partnered with the Washington Ballet to present David Palmer's "Passing Through" and Edwaard Liang's "As Above, So Below," followed by a celebration of "Carmen. …

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