Youth symphony competing against world’s elite orchestras for a Grammy

Youth symphony competing against world’s elite orchestras for a Grammy
Youth symphony competing against world’s elite orchestras for a Grammy

New York: When the New York Youth Symphony recorded its debut album during the pandemic´s dark early days, violinist Jessica Jeon was just 12 years old.

Now she and her fellow musicians are competing against some of the world´s elite orchestras, including the famed Los Angeles and Berlin Philharmonics, to take home the Grammy award for best orchestral performance — the first time a youth orchestra has ever made it into the category.

“What a cool experience to have — this is my first time ever, like, recording in a studio,” Jeon, now 14, said after a rehearsal.

Confronted with the pandemic-forced cancellations of the symphony´s customary performances at Carnegie Hall, music director Michael Repper decided to organize a recording experience for his students instead — something to mark their accomplishments despite the halt in live performance.

It was no easy feat: pandemic restrictions meant recording could only happen in smaller groups, meaning the young artists had to wear headphones and use a click track for cues, and the different parts were later synchronized.

“It was a funny story to tell my teachers, why I had to miss school a couple of days to record,” said 17-year-old bassist Gregory Galand.

Recording in small groups is atypical for orchestras, but the health crisis demanded creativity while ensuring that no one contracted Covid-19 (no one did, Repper said).

“I´m very proud that we were able to engineer a way of making it happen despite the pandemic. It was a fantastic experience,” the 32-year-old conductor said.

And the Grammy nomination? A cherry on top.

Noelia Carrasco, a 19-year-old cellist, is now studying music at New York University.

She called finding out that she was a Grammy nominee “so surreal.”

“I had to re-read that, like twice, because I didn´t really process it the first time,” she said.

“It´s just amazing.” (AFP)

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