A petite, young violin player sitting adjacent to more mature adolescent violinist. A pair of cello players intent on the same Tchaikovsky work, though many years apart. A younger percussionist wowing older drum-players with musical knowledge far beyond his years.
Last Friday, the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) and Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra 2 (NYO2) convened at Curtis Institute of Music and rehearsed a Tchaikovsky piece in a side-by-side fashion. The Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth is a collaborative of 16 organizations in Philadelphia working together to make music education accessible to all. This event drew students from six of those organizations: The School District of Philadelphia, Musicopia, Play On, Philly!, Settlement Music School, Temple Music Prep, and Tune Up Philly (a program of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra) and was sponsored by two other member organizations- the Curtis Institute of Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
For this spectacular event, the PMAY players were all approximately middle-school-age, whereas the NYO2 players were securely high-school-age. This set-up lent well to a mentor-mentee relationship on a powerful musical level. The result was fantastic. After just 3-ish hours, the younger musicians were able to look up with admiration to the NYO2 students, overtly set on fire with inspiration. On the flip side, the older NYO2 musicians took time to talk to and get to know the younger PMAY students. All of which affirmed the conviction that music possesses the innate ability to fabricate bonds between individuals.
After ice-breaking exercises were completed, sectionals were finished, and the Philadelphia Orchestra assistant conductor, Lio Kuokman, took the stand, the PMAY musicians alongside the NYO2 players performed their practiced song to a crowd of beaming Philadelphia-native parents. The piece was beautifully played. The claps of appreciation were tremendous.