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Congratulations to the ESYO Class of 2023!

We are so proud of all you have accomplished, and can't wait to learn where your passions take you next!

On Saturday, June 17, 2023, we had the honor of celebrating our graduating students at Encore Stage with performance, refreshments, and awards honoring some of our most outstanding seniors. 

Each spring ESYO awards an outstanding senior the Barry Richman Careers in Music Scholarship.  This award is presented to the senior who best exemplifies the goals and standards of their ensemble, has made outstanding musical contributions, exhibits the skills needed to succeed in music, and is pursuing a music career. We are delighted to announce that this year’s award was presented to Kiemon Noel.

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Kiemon has been an extraordinary member of Youth Jazz Orchestra this past season, which marked his second year playing with ESYO. Additionally, Kieman has been an outstanding member of Niskayuna’s music program, performing in Symphonic, Concert and Stage Bands,  as well as Jazz Ensemble. Kiemon credits his mentors Keith Pray and Peter Bellino, as well as his transformative experience at NYU’s Summer Jazz Workshop with setting him on the path to a career in jazz. Kiemon wrote in his application essay, “I listen to several different styles of music but the fact that jazz is improvisational allows it to connect with me on the highest level. In my opinion, when people are improvising they’re conveying who they are with no filter.” And indeed, it is Kiemon’s uninhibited, powerful musical expression that has made him such a stand out amongst his peers.

The ESYO Team applauds Kiemon’s remarkable ability, and we all look forward to see where his passions will lead, and what accomplishments certainly await. This fall, Kiemon will study with the renowned Kenny Washington at SUNY Purchase, pursuing a degree in jazz performance. There, he will just as surely make his mark, as he has in our musical community. We wish Kiemon all the best in his future endeavors, and encourage him to keep stretching his limits, and finding the joy. Congratulations, Kiemon!

Each spring ESYO also presents the Helen Cha-Pyo Baton Award to a senior who embodies the passionate commitment of former Music Director, Helen Cha-Pyo, to use music as a means to uplift and enrich the community. Helen served as ESYO’s Music Director and Symphony Orchestra Conductor between 2002 and 2018. Under her leadership, ESYO grew to become one of the preeminent Youth Orchestras in the nation. Helen’s vision guided the creation of ESYO CHIME in 2015, providing a free, comprehensive music program for our region’s youth, and expanding access to outstanding performance opportunities. Helen’s active community engagement sparked numerous collaborative projects both regionally and internationally.

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This year’s recipient is Yu-Heng Wang. Yu-Heng’s compassionate leadership has been evident since he first joined ESYO, willing both to step forward as well as to support from the back. As a Young Leader, Yu-Heng served on the Board of Directors and offered insight and wisdom far beyond his years to help guide the organization forward. Yu-Heng truly embodies the notion of “serious fun,” approaching his musical study with intensity and focus while simultaneously exuding an infectious joy. We all look forward to the video series he is launching, and applaud his initiative and drive.

Helen often referred to the Bantu term, Ubuntu, in describing her philosophy on music making:  Ubuntu is often translated as “I am because we are,” or “humanity toward others.” Helen believed that through sharing one’s music with others, we create meaningful connections and enrich humanity.  With this award, we honor Yu-Heng for his ability to do just as Helen advocated: create meaningful connections with others through his generous gift of music. We wish Yu-Heng all the best in his future endeavors, and hope that he will keep ESYO up to date on all of his adventures.  Congratulations!

Check out the photos below from Encore Stage 2023.