Skip to main content

NYYS History

Season 44 2006-2007

Chris Winans was announced as Director of Jazz Band Classic, succeeding four seasons of Ryan Keberle.  Also announced is the appointment of Evan Wels as director of the new Symphony Singers program to offer the same educational and performance opportunities to young vocalists as the NYYS’ other programs.

The orchestra’s opening performance in Carnegie Hall 12-3-06 featured the première of First Music composer Mark Danciger’s “Snow,” Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony, and Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” with guest narrator Peter Schickele.

The New York Times:  “On Sunday afternoon at Carnegie Hall, the New York Youth Symphony, in its first major concert of the season, was only a couple of minutes from the end of a terrific performance of Prokofiev’s bustling and powerful Symphony No. 5 when trouble struck. Somehow a jaunty theme fell out of sync with its rambunctious accompaniment. Paul Haas, the accomplished young conductor of this impressive youth orchestra, whose players range in age from 12 to 22, had no choice but to stop briefly and start over.  This surely bothered the young musicians much more than it did the audience, who cheered vigorously when the performance ended.”

“ . . . I hope the young musicians realize what an exciting account they gave, over all, of this teeming 1944 work. The mercurial first movement, an Andante, flowed inexorably in this aptly heavy-footed and rich-toned performance. Mr. Haas and the players captured the unnerving giddiness of the Scherzo, the bitterness that bursts through the pensive lyricism of the slow movement, and the mix of wildness and sarcasm in the dizzying finale.  Mr. Haas also led an assured and spirited account of Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” with Peter Schickele on hand to read his jokey version of the explanatory narration for this tour through the instruments of the orchestra.”  (Tommasini, Chief Music Critic  12-5-06)

The recording industry’s major licensing agencies, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) were honored at the orchestra’s opening with the twelfth annual presentation of the Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education.  Trustee Elliott Forrest of WQXR, serves as host and presenter.  Accepting the awards were composer Stephen Paulus, a board member of ASCAP, and Ralph Jackson, President of the BMI Foundation.

The orchestra’s winter concert in Carnegie Hall is 2-25-07 and featured First Music composer Paul Fowler’s “Tapu’at,” Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, and Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variatoins” with Durst Début Artist Efe Balticigil, Associate Principal Cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The New York Times:  “The concerts that the New York Youth Symphony is presenting at Carnegie Hall this season are bittersweet affairs: each brings closer the impending departure of Paul Haas, the group’s dynamic young music director, who will step down in May. This lanky conductor is surely on the brink of a noteworthy career, judging by the evidence of his work with this fine group.”

Writing of the new work, the critic said, “The colorful, attractive music was an ideal showcase for these accomplished players.”

“Mr. Haas established a suitably gracious tone for Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, which included glowing contributions from the winds and French horns.  . . . This music is Tchaikovsky at his most congenial, and the players brought out its delectable sweetness.”

“After intermission Mr. Haas took the stage to conduct Brahms’s Symphony No. 4, then noticed something amiss and excused himself. A moment later, to the amusement of the audience, a stagehand removed the music stand from the podium.  Was there a hint of bravado in Mr. Haas’s return?  Probably.  But it was not misplaced:  Every note and gesture in this score could be discerned in his exacting stick technique and body language as he steered his players through a compelling performance.”  (Steve Smith  2-27-07)

The orchestra under Paul Haas concludes the season in Carnegie Hall on 5-27-07 with a program featuring the Carnegie Hall début of Symphony Singers, directed by Evan Wels.  The program consists of “Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine,” a work for orchestra and chorus by First Music composer Dan Visconti; “Matthew Says,” a re-arrangement by Paul Haas of works by Bach and Telemann featuring the orchestra, Symphony Singers, and an ensemble of professional singers; and Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.

The New York Observer:  “The final concert of the New York Youth Symphony’s 44th season —at Carnegie Hall on May 27— was also the farewell appearance of Paul Haas, the group’s young and dynamic music director, who’s moving on after a successful five-year term.  His choice, Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, was ambitious, and the assured performance he coaxed out of his charges (none of whom are older than 22) was an impressive achievement.  . . . an auspicious world-premiere performance of “Some Day the Sun Won’t Shine,” a powerful, carefully calibrated rock-driven work by Dan Visconti, one of the dozens of talented young composers the orchestra has commissioned over the years.  The piece featured the debut of the Symphony Singers, a new choral arm of the Youth Symphony.  Their firm musicianship carried them well through “Matthew Says,” an imaginative fantasia by Mr. Haas, concocted from the Lutheran chorales which Bach used in his St. Matthew Passion.”  (Platt  5-29-07)

The New York Times:  “ . . . its strings sections are startlingly beautiful, with a sheen and trueness a lot of grown-up orchestras would envy.  . . . Mr. Haas likes space and light in his performances. Here the stage was semi-lighted, with the chorus — beautifully trained and tuned, by the way — joining wind ensembles and emanating from different parts of the hall.” (Holland  5-29-07)

Paul Haas concluded his position of Music Director after five seasons with the orchestra.

Jazz Band Classic opens its fifth season 12-13-06 with the début of director Chris Winans in a program called “Swingin’ the Classics,” featuring works of classical composers arranged by jazz composers.

March 14, 2007, Symphony Space
Jazz Band Classic performs “Trumpet Blues” at Symphony Space on 3-14-07 featuring the well-known trumpeter, Warren Vaché.  Chris Winans directs the 15-piece band in pieces by Thad Jones and Duke Ellington, among other works.

Jazz Band Classic concludes on 5-17-07 its fifth season in The Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center with a program directed by Chris Winans and entitiled “Back Bone,” featuring the music of the big band trombonists of the 1930s and 40s.  Steve Turre is the guest trombonist.

The Chamber Music Program offers its season-end performance in Weill Recital Hall on 4-30-07.  The CMP Mentorship Program —in which a professional musician coaches a single Program ensemble and performs with it at this recital— features violinist Daniel Phillips of the Orion String Quartet.  Eight chamber ensembles perform works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Mozart, among others, as well as “Aperture in Shift,” a First Music-commissioned work by Sean Shepherd.  Lisa Tipton directs the Program.

Making Score under the direction of Derek Bermel closes its seventh season in Symphony Space on 5-21-07 with new compositions by 13 Program members performed by ensembles of the orchestra, Chamber Music Program, and Jazz Band Classic.

The Symphony Singers program (19 singers) makes its début 12-11-06 in Symphony Space (Thalia Hall) featuring a program entitled “Polyphonic Masters” such as Byrd, de Victoria, Monteverdi, Purcell, and Tallis.

Symphony Singers, under the direction of Evan Wels, presented a performance entitled “Songwriter Portrait:  Irving Berlin” with guest musicians of Jazz Band Classic at Thalia Hall of Symphony Space, 2-28-07.  The program included “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “What’ll I Do,” and “White Christmas,” and instrumentals with JBC of “How Deep Is the Ocean” and “My Funny Valentine.”


The New York State Music Fund makes a grant of $125,000 to pay for expansion of the First Music and Making Score programs and for updating of the musical archives.  The funds for distribution to music organizations through the state are a result of a court settlement of the New York State Attorney General with the recording industry.  (Board Meeting Minutes  1-25-07)

Following the performance was a reception honoring the Chamber Music Program on its 25th anniversary season.