ESYO’s Music Director and Conductor of the Youth Orchestra
Helen Cha-Pyo began her tenure at Empire State Youth Orchestras in September 2002. Ms. Cha-Pyo’s leadership has helped ESYO strengthen its commitment to performing contemporary music, including commissions by American composers Hilary Tann and Samuel Adler. Her vision was reflected in ESYO’s March 2008 New Music for a New Generation Festival. A day of music and inter-generational connections between ESYO’s musicians and composers, the Festival was funded in part by a $100,000 grant from the New York State Music Fund. Nine newly commissioned works – one for each of ESYO’s ensembles – were premiered at the culminating concert. Following the festival, Ms. Cha-Pyo led the Youth Orchestra on a European tour, accompanied by Samuel Adler, whose festival commission was performed in German, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Both the Festival and the tour program influenced the decision by the American Society of Composers, Artists, and Publishers (ASCAP) to present ESYO with two prestigious awards. (ESYO has since received another ASCAP award for its “adventurous” programming.
From 1996 through June 2003, Ms. Cha-Pyo served as Conductor of the Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and Associate Director of Music at The Riverside Church in New York City. A committed music educator, she pioneered the Riverside Music Educational Program, which served thousands of New York City public-school children. She returned to Riverside in April 2009 to conduct the Empire State Youth Orchestra, Youth Chorale, and New York’s Central City Chorus in a performance of William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Ms. Cha-Pyo studied piano and organ in the Pre-College Program at The Juilliard School. After graduating from Oberlin College, she earned Master of Music degrees in conducting and organ performance from the Eastman School of Music. She has performed organ recitals throughout the northeastern U.S. and Asia and appeared as an organ soloist with several orchestras. She has conducted orchestras and choruses in the United States, Asia, and Europe.