SANTA MONICA — Many musical legends have performed in New York City’s Carnegie Hall over the years. Later this month, 12 students from Santa Monica schools will add their names to that inspirational list.
The Los Angeles Youth Orchestra is hitting the big time. Students from over 60 L.A. schools, ages 8 to 18, are honored with the opportunity to perform a special concert at the historic venue.
“When I realized this was an actual performance, and that the public would be buying tickets to see it, I couldn’t believe it. Some professionals don’t even get to do this,” said 15-year-old oboe player Iden Ameri, a student at Santa Monica High School. “My grandparents would always say ‘my grandson is going to perform at Carnegie Hall.’ They said it in a joking way, but the fact that it’s actually happening is really crazy.”
Composer and conductor, Russell Steinberg, researched tour companies that put on professional concerts and sent out audition tapes of the youth orchestra in action. Manhattan Concert Production received the tape and booked the concert at Carnegie.
“I wanted to create this opportunity for the orchestra. I felt that last year’s orchestra had improved so much and we had never toured before. I had an image of us performing at Carnegie Hall,” Steinberg said.
The students of the orchestra have a long line of music knowledge as some started playing their instruments at a very young age.
“When I was 6, my family and I were on a trip to Ireland, we were on a mountain top and I saw a performer,” 16-year-old New Roads violinist Mica Nafshun-Bone said. “I was amazed by her presence. She was fiddling and I thought it was really impressive so I started begging my mom for a violin and I decided to stick with it … . I’m glad I did.”
The performance in NYC is being held in honor of the orchestra’s late program director and viola coach, Eve Cohen. Cohen passed away from cancer in October but her memory lives on through the 75 orchestra students and alumni who will play together that night.
“Eve was not only my colleague, she was also a fabulous violist,” Steinberg said. “When she passed, I conceived writing a piece especially for her so that she’d be with us.”
Steinberg will premiere his piece “Eve Star” with the orchestra as a tribute to Cohen.
“The piece sounds a little nostalgic and it ends quietly with the violas playing the last note by themselves. I wanted Eve to have the last word,” Steinberg said.
The performance will take place Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. in Carnegie Hall’s main space, Stern Auditorium. The Los Angeles Youth Orchestra is being given half the show, sharing the other half with other youth orchestras from all over the country.
“Being in this orchestra has been an essential step in my musical career… . And since this orchestra goes from ages 8 to 18, I’m probably going to stay until I graduate,” 11-year-old violinist Grace Alexander said. “And most of the kids who are in the orchestra are going to do that. You have to have a real commitment. This is pretty much your whole life and it’s worth it.”
Tickets for this concert are available at carnegiehall.org or at the box office.
The Los Angeles Youth Orchestra will be playing a local concert at UCLA Schoenberg Hall at 4 p.m. on April 14 and at Zipper Hall at The Colburn School in Downtown L.A. at 7:30 p.m. on April 15.
For more information about the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, visit losangelesyouthorchestra.org.