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NYYS History

Season 43 2005-2006

The orchestra opened in Carnegie Hall on 11-27-05 with a performance of Bernstein’s overture to “Candide” in tribute to the life and memory of Edward S. Cohen, president emeritus and a Trustee for ten years.  Carter Brey, the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, performs Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, with Paul Haas on the podium for his fourth season.  Also on the program are “Axiom,” by Ryan Anthony Francis and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

The New York Times:  “ . . . these players gave the overture a zesty and beautifully polished reading.  . . . The program also included two works from the core repertory.  On the first half, Carter Brey, the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, joined Mr. Haas and company as the soloist in a shapely, singing account of Dvořák's Cello Concerto.  And after the intermission, the orchestra offered a solid and often electric performance of the Beethoven Fifth Symphony.”  (Kozinn  11-29-05)

The Curtis Institute of Music and Gary Graffman, president, were honored at the orchestra’s opening with the eleventh annual presentation of the Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education.  Bruce A. Stevens, president of Steinway & Sons, makes the presentation on-stage at the opening concert; Elliott Forrest of WQXR serves as host.

Cellist Edward Arron performed with the orchestra in place of Carter Brey at an earlier performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto at Queens College,

Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, age 14, made his Carnegie Hall début 2-26-06 as the tenth soloist of The Roy and Shirley Durst Début Series.  Winner of the Keyboard Finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award in 2004, he performs Rave’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the orchestra under the direction of Paul Haas.  Other works on the program include Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”; a commissioned work called “The Other Rainbow,” by Roger Zare; and an arrangement by Paul Haas of Monteverdi’s “Deposuit potentes de sede” of his 1610 “Vespers of the Virgin Mary.”

The orchestra gave its final Carnegie Hall performance of the season 5-21-06 with Paul Haas conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 and the première of the Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra by First Music composer Takuma Itoh, age 21.  The Shanghai Quartet makes its Carnegie Hall début with this work.

The New York Times:  “Over 43 seasons, the New York Youth Symphony has taken on daunting repertory. But not many pieces —not Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, not even Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring"— are as hard to bring off as Mahler's tumultuous Symphony No. 6 in A minor.  So all praise to this orchestra of players ranging in age from 12 to 22 (though most are high school students) for its accomplished performance of the Mahler Sixth in its final concert of the season on Sunday afternoon at Carnegie.  . . . All in all, this was an involving andbrave account of Mahler's 85-minute score.”  “For every fleeting moment of unpolished execution, there were whole passages of brassy exuberance — or visceral power, unerring ensemble or, in the wistful Andante, disarming tenderness.  The musicians seemed to know this score intimately.  And Mr. Haas conducted it from memory, winning enthusiastic applause from his hard-working players during a long ovation.”  (Tommasini, Chief Music Critic  5-23-06)

“The McGraw-Hill Companies’ Young Artists Showcase” on WQXR-FM with host Robert Sherman presents on 5-10-06 the orchestra’s previous performance of Bernstein and Ravel works, featuring conductor Paul Haas and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, the tenth artist of The Roy and Shirley Durst Début Series.

“The McGraw-Hill Companies’ Young Artists Showcase” on WQXR-FM with host Robert Sherman presents on 7-26-06 the orchestra’s 2-26-06 performance of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”

Jazz Band Classic opened its sixth season 12-14-05 at Leonard Nimoy Thalia Hall of Symphony Space in a program entitled, “A Big Band Christmas.”

Baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan joined the band in a program featuring the works of Gerry Mulligan, Gene Krupa, and Stan Kenton at Symphony Space on 3-8-06.

Legendary tenor saxophonist Frank Wess performed as guest soloist with Jazz Band Classic 5-17-06 in its season-end performance in The Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center.  The program, called “Tenor Madness,” also features the première of “Joy Soup,” by Dan Cavanagh, the third First Music composer commissioned for JBC.

The McGraw-Hill Companies’ Young Artists Showcase, hosted by Robert Sherman on WQXR-FM, broadcasts on 11-16-05 a performance of Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet performed by an ensemble of the Chamber Music Program.

A day-long strategic planning session was held 2-13-06 for the Chamber Music Program to provide improved focus of the Program.  The professionally facilitated session determines that (1) the Program is performance-oriented, that objective viewed as an essential motivator of participants to practice harder and rehearse more often, and (2) the Program should be expanded to more young musicians because it should be inclusive rather than exclusive in its outreach.  The session further determines that all skill levels should be accommodated.

The Chamber Music Program held its annual season-end recital 4-25-06 in Weill Recital Hall featuring the première of First Music composer Carl W. Schimmel’s “Towns of Wind and Wood” for woodwind quintet and CMP alumnus Nicholas Tzavaras, cellist of the Shanghai Quartet, as the Program’s “mentor,” playing a Schubert quintet with a Program ensemble.

Steven Mackey, a well-known composer and Professor of Music at Princeton University, was named in April 2006 Chair of the Advisory Committee of First Music (for orchestral and chamber music commissions), following composer John Corigliano’s tenure in that position after ten years.


The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, having announced its termination in 2009 as a foundation, declares its intention to make a close-out grant of $300,000 for the Symphony’s Endowment Fund contingent on the raising of an additional amount of $300,000, also for the Endowment.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from The Altman Foundation, the administration undertook to broaden its auditions outreach to more students, resulting in a 20 percent increase in applications for the season.

As a result of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust’s earlier intention to award the NYYS with a $300,000 grant for its Endowment Fund, The Board of Trustees agrees on 7-26-06 to undertake a multi-year campaign to expand the organization’s Endowment and reserve Funds to a total of $2.5 million.  Trustee Robert Levine serves as the campaign’s director.

The late Sybil C. Simon, a Trustee since 1988, was remembered at the Board meeting of 7-26-06.  She had been the Executive Director of New York’s Arts and Business Council and founder of Business Volunteers for the Arts.