93 high- and middle-school age musicians from ESYO’s Youth Orchestra left New York on Friday, Apirl 11, 2008, for an eight-day tour of Europe. The Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Helen Cha-Pyo, is one of ESYO’s nine performing groups. The orchestra perfomred in histroic concert halls in Eisenach and Ilmenau, German; Salzburg, Austria; and Prague, Czech Republic.
The Salburg concert was held in the famous Mozarteum, while the concert in Prague was in Dvorak Hall in the Rudolfinum. ESYO’s Youth Orchestra was one of only two non-professional orchestras invited to perform in that hall in 2008.
Two of the four concerts were benefits: proceeds from teh Eisneach concert were donated to the Deutsche Epilepsievereinigung (German Epilepsy Association); in Salzburg, the concert benefited theSalzburger Hilfswerk, a local organization that provides a wide range of services including meals on wheels for seniors, support in nursing homes, day care centers, counseling and eductioan programs for familes, youth programs, and emergency contact services.
While in Ilmenau, ESYO musicians had an opportunity to meet and perform with members of a German youth orchestra.
During the tour, the orchestra gave the German, Austrian, and Czech national premieres of A Bridge to Understanding by composer and Juilliard professor Samuel Adler.
The work, which was commissioned by ESYO, had its world premiere when the Youth Orchestra performed it during ESYO’s March 2008 New Music Festival at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Adler’s piece incorporates both Czech and American folk music. Dr. Adler toured with the Youth Orchestra and introduced his music to the audiences.
In addition to the Adler piece, the orchestra played Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and the Overture to the School for Scandal by Barber. They also performed Strauss’ Radetsky March which prompted the audiences to clap in time to the music.
The trip was much more expensive than the typical teen’s “backpack” tour of Europe. The cost per particpatn was $3,400 and, as is ESYO’s practice, no musician was excluded from the trip for financial reasons. Generous support for the tour was given by both corporate and individual sponsors, including UBS, Time Warner Cable, Times Union, Clear Channel (News Talk 810 WGY) and others.
This was the fourth European tour; previous tours in 1989, 1994, and 2000 brought the orchestra to Spain, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic. It was the first tour for musicians in the 2008 Youth Orchestra.
“Our young musicians had an enriching experience – individually and collectively,” said Helen Cha-Pyo, Music Director and Conductor of the Youth Orchestra. “The excitement of travel
combined with their passion for music opened their eyes to a culture that is familiar to them – from the music – but very new to them in terms of the people and the places they visited. As music ambassadors sharing their talents, they saw how music is ‘a bridge to understanding.’ These players came home having given a lot, but also having received a lot back from their experiences visiting historic places and interacting with the peoples of Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.”