Calling All Composers Ages 14–18: Opportunity at Carnegie Hall!

We just got wind of a new opportunity from Carnegie Hall for young composers!

The Carmina Burana Choral Project features 200 high school singers and 50 middle school singers from all over New York City with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s conducted by David Robertson. Carnegie is looking for three high school-aged composers to write new works for the chorus and orchestra based on the musical themes of Carmina Burana. The winners will have their works premiered on February 5, 2012 at Stern Auditorium.

Benefits offered by Carnegie to young composers:

  • A chance to premiere a composition for chorus and orchestra at Carnegie Hall
  • Access to workshops and mentoring with professional composers
  • Rehearsals and premiere performance of a new 5–7 minute composition at Carnegie Hall with Orchestra of St. Luke’s, high school choirs, and conductor David Robertson

Applications due: June 1, 2011
Premiere: February 5, 2012

For more information or to apply, click here or call 212-903-9625.

The Carmina Burana Choral Project is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for choral music established by S. Donald Sussman in memory of Judith Arron and Robert Shaw.

‘Tis the Season…Audition Season, That Is!

January means college auditions, so this post features a great article written by From the Top alum and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Ren Martin-Doike. Ren shares tips and hints for preparing for those college auditions, as well as interesting links and ideas for practicing. We hope you enjoy, and good luck if you’re auditioning this year!

‘Tis the Season…Audition Season that is!
Here are a few things that helped me prepare.
By Ren Martin-Doike

You’ve been practicing for what seems like your whole life, and in a few months, you will give one of the most crucial performances of your career so far… your college audition. How is preparing for college auditions any different from, say, getting ready for a competition?

Ren Performs on From the Top in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2008

Auditions are actually the same thing as competitions. The only difference is that when you “win,” instead of getting a medal, money or concert opportunities, you get the chance to snag the best prize of all – a good education.

Since you’re planning to study music beyond high school, I have a feeling that you are already an experienced player, not looking for another article telling you to practice 8 hours a day or how you shouldn’t wear blue jeans for your audition. Of course, the standard rules do always apply – listen to your teacher, plan ahead and practice mindfully. But you already know these things, so I’m going to give you my experience-tested tips, from the wise to the wacky.

First and foremost – it’s all in your head. No matter how well you prepare, if you psych yourself out at the last minute, you may not play your best. Conversely, if you don’t believe in yourself from the start, you will limit yourself from playing as well as you can. I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and neurology, so as you read this article you will also find “mind-hacks” you can use to more deeply tap into your potential. Continue reading

From the Top and Carnegie Hall: The Big Break Finalists Have Been Announced!

As you probably know, along with Carnegie Hall we have been very busy with The Big Break – An online YouTube contest looking for the best young musicians in America. Today we are pleased to announced our 15 finalists – and invite YOU to vote for YOUR favorite performances now through December 14!

Finalists were drawn from a pool of hundreds of video submissions uploaded between October 18 and November 18 at YouTube.com/BigBreak . All classical musicians, the contestants ranged in age from 8-18 and participated on a variety of solo instruments including piano, bassoon, harp, voice, violin, cello, bass, marimba, and recorder. They hailed from all over the country.

Public voting on the top 15 finalists begins today at YouTube.com/BigBreak and ends on December 14. The Big Break’s grand-prize winner, selected by the public, will appear on an upcoming national radio broadcast of From the Top on NPR with host Christopher O’Riley. The grand-prize winner plus several runners-up will also perform at a Carnegie Hall Family Concert on April 9 in Zankel Hall, produced in partnership with From the Top and hosted by Mr. O’Riley. Big Break winners will be announced on or after December 15.

The Big Break finalists are:

Gideon Broshy (piano), age 16, New York, NY
Emily Brown (double bass), age 16, Myersville, MD
Samuel Casseday (double bass), age 17, Jacksonville, FL
Jennifer Cha (violin), age 14, Naperville, IL
Brannon Cho (cello), age 15, Short Hills, NJ
Michael Davidman (piano), age 13, New York, NY
Peter Eom (cello), age 15, Gilbert, AZ
Helen Gerhold (harp), age 14, Lansdale, PA
Nikita Haduong (violin), age 15, Henderson, NV
Jiyeon Kim (guitar), age 17, Cleveland, OH
Kate Liu (piano), age 16, Winnetka, IL
Ryan Norville (flute), age 17, Fort Myers, FL
Arianna Smith (viola), age 17, St. Charles, IL
Marcelina Suchocka (marimba), age 17, Chicago, IL
Kevin Sun (piano), age 17, Carmichael, CA

Each year, From the Top receives about a thousand applications from young classical musicians across the country wishing to appear on its radio and television broadcasts. This contest marks the first time that From the Top has opened that audition process to the public, inviting them to help identify their favorite performers. Carnegie Hall, with its deep commitment to programs that nurture young talent and encourage musicians to aspire to excellence, is happy to continue its partnership with From the Top, offering Big Break musicians the opportunity to perform on its popular Family Concert series.

Please check out the finalists and cast your vote by giving a “thumbs up” for your favorite performance. You can vote once a day per video – spread the word to your friends!

From the Top and Carnegie Hall’s Big Break is Heating Up!

We’ve teamed up with Carnegie Hall to launch the Big Break – a YouTube contest for young musicians to win an appearance on a special broadcast of our radio show and a performance at Carnegie Hall!

With a little over a week to go until the November 18th submission deadline, we’ve got some terrific entries including a recorder player, a bassoonist, many talented pianists, and more! You can check out current submissions now on the contest page, and the public voting stage will begin around November 29th. Be sure to check back then to cast your vote for who should win a performance on a special episode of From the Top’s radio show and an appearance at a concert at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall!

Are you a young musician (or know one) aged 8-18 looking for your big break? Submit your solo performance video now.

From the Top’s Summer Audition Tour

Although From the Top doesn’t tape many radio shows during the summer, our staff keep busy during these hot months with an important and exciting task – holding live auditions for our NPR radio show.

Live auditions are an opportunity for us to hear young musicians in a different and fun capacity; most of our auditions come in by mail. Recent stops our live audition tour included Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI), Interlochen Center for the Arts, Brevard Music Center (BMC), and Aspen Music Festival (AMF).  Below are some highlights from the travels of Tim Banker, Caroline Cardiasmenos, Megan Lantz, and Tom Vignieri.

News From Interlochen Center for the Arts:

Tim Banker

Tim Banker reports: “As usual, our Interlochen auditions are a real marathon for the brain as we see kids from 9am to 9pm (no exaggeration).  The level at Interlochen is very high and so it’s pretty inspiring.  It really doesn’t get boring.  Interlochen is totally international so we also heard amazing kids from locations as far flung as Israel and Peru.

One of the terrifying things about Interlochen is when you try to get breakfast at the cafeteria at like 7:40am.  Why?  Because at 7:45am about 1,000 kids have to be at their orchestras or rehearsals or classes and it’s like experiencing a buffalo stampede in all directions except the buffalo are all carrying bananas, half filled bowls of cereal and jelly lined pieces of toast.  I was half asleep at the time and simply froze to protect myself. Pretty funny.”

From the Top staffers also delighted in an Interlochen tradition: The Melody Freeze, which is, according to Tim, “a gloriously mobbed ice cream stand from which you can buy $1 soft serve.”  Yum!

Continue reading

Audition Stories: Caitlin Kelley

Below is the second edition of a new series of “Audition Stories”, a fistful of firsthand reports on what it takes to get on From the Top. We’ll cover details from the toughest application question to the fateful phone call and everything in between. Of course, the best way to find out what auditioning is like is to do it yourself – download the application here.

Caitlin Kelley, From the Top alumna and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist, now a senior at the Colburn School in L.A.

Caitlin Kelley, From the Top alumna and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist, now a senior at the Colburn School in L.A.

Violinist Caitlin Kelley had always thought about auditioning for From the Top, but it was not until From the Top came to the Aspen Music Festival and School to hear auditions that she finally took the plunge.

“It was always in the back of mind to audition, and since they were right there, I figured why not?” Caitlin said. “From the Top had been on the radio station in Seattle since I was young, and I always loved it. It was a hysterical show.” Continue reading

Summer Scouting

We’ll be visiting music camps around the country this summer to find some new, amazing talent for our next season of programming.

Interlochen Arts Camp

Interlochen Arts Camp

Stops include:

Sphinx Performance Academy at Walnut Hill School Natick, MA – July 7

Boston University Tanglewood Institute Boston, MA – July 17

Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Arts Camp Interlochen, MI – July 23-24

Aspen Music Festival and School Aspen, CO – August 3

Camp administrators will be posting details about From the Top’s visit at each location. So keep your ears and eyes peeled for information.

If you (or a talented musician you know) is interested in auditioning but will not be attending one of these camps this summer, never fear, From the Top always welcomes mailed applications.

Read more about the audition process here

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