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First Music


Due to covid-19 and concert cancellations NYYS is suspending the 21/22 season to perform premieres of previously commissioned composers. Please check back in 2021 for the 22/23 application.

"The most impressive record for championing new music of any ensemble in the United States."              -The New York Times

First Music, the New York Youth Symphony’s young composer competition, commissions America’s best emerging orchestra, chamber music, and jazz composers under the age of 30. It has been acknowledged widely as one of the leading forces in the United States for bringing the work of gifted young composers to the public’s attention. Seven awards are given each season for orchestral, jazz, and chamber music compositions. 

According to Symphony Magazine, “During the last two decades, no youth orchestra in the country has been more relentlessly committed to generating new music.” The NYYS is proud to have commissioned over 150 original works for orchestra, chamber music, and jazz through First Music since 1984, all of which have been premiered by NYYS ensembles at venues including Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. First Music commissions have been awarded to Aaron J. Kernis, David Lang, Kevin Puts, Julia Wolfe, Michael Torke, and Timo Andres, among others. We are proud that First Music composers have been recognized with 12 Rome Prizes, 16 Guggenheim Fellowships, two Grawemeyer Awards, and four Pulitzer Prizes.

First Music Advisors

Grammy-nominated composer Christopher Theofanidis is chair of the First Music Advisory Committee for orchestra and chamber music. Arturo O'Farrill, pianist, composer, educator, and founder and Artistic Director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, chairs the advisory committee for jazz.

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