"I have been blessed with enormous rewards in my life through music, but of all of the things I do in this field, non is more satisfying than to work with talented young people. The Youth Orchestra of Germany comprises some of our most promising musical talents" (Kurt Masur). The German National Youth Orchestra, founded in 1969 by the German Music Council, is one of the world’s leading youth orchestras. The concerts it gives are of unusually high quality and delight the ears and eyes of concertgoers everywhere. The orchestra’s youthful dynamism has a stunning effect on audiences and its sparkle and exuberance are inspirational.
The National Youth Orchestra brings together the best of the younger generation of musicians from all over Germany to demonstrate their skill in national and international concert tours under the direction of celebrated conductors such as Kurt Masur, Gerd Albrecht, Yakov Kreizberg or Andrey Boreyko. The young musicians aged between 14 and 20 qualify for selection for the National Youth Orchestra before an expert jury – just like professionals everywhere. With a team of instructors and alternating conductors and in an environment of intensive work phases, the orchestra devotes itself to exacting orchestral works from all epochs. The programme does not consist of classical and romantic orchestral music alone. Contemporary works by composers such as Hans Werner Henze or Karl Amadeus Hartmann and debut performances of works as for instance Peter Kuzicka and Bernd Franke are an integral part of the orchestra’s work.
The work phases held three times a year are an unforgettable experience for the members of the National Youth Orchestra. Being together for three weeks with 100 like-minded, young talented people, working on an ambitious programme and presenting it on tour – this is a defining experience for the young people involved, both from the musical and human angle.
The National Youth Orchestra has performed in numerous projects of epochal impact. These include concerts in Israel led by Gary Bertini, in 1995 the memorial concerts for the victims of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the performance of Verdi’s Requiem in 1997 in the former concentration camp in Theresienstadt. The German Music Life Foundation, a longstanding private partner and sponsor, put on two major international tours with the orchestra: in 1998 the “Thank You America!” tour to mark the 50th anniversary of the Berlin airlift, led by Kurt Masur, with concerts in New York, Washington, Boston and Berlin, and in the summer of 2000 a tour through Poland led by Gerd Albrecht under the motto “Poland and Germany – together at the heart of Europe”. In the summer of 2005 the orchestra gave guest performances under the motto “Musica Viva” to mark the “German Year in Japan 2005/06”, which included concerts in Hamamatsu and Tokio, also under Gerd Albrecht. In the summer of 2006 the National Youth Orchestra, led by Andris Nelson, performed guest concerts in Venezuela at the invitation of Maestro José Antonio Abreu, the revolutionary of Venezuela’s orchestral scene. After four days of rehearsals in Caracas and a concert together with the Young Venezuelan Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra embarked on a tour through the western part of the country. In 2007 the orchestra was appointed as music ambassador of the German EU Council Presidency. For this occasion, it toured through Great Britain, central and South-eastern Europe with the conductors Jac van Steen and Marc Piollet. In the winter of 2008 the orchestra cooperated with John Neumeier and performers of the HAMBURG BALLET: Together the ensembles staged works by Gustav Mahler with a choreography by Neumeier in concert halls such as the Hamburg State Opera House.
The large fluctuation in the composition of the orchestra in comparison to professional orchestras – members of the National Youth Orchestra stay for an average of two years -, does not detract from the quality of its performances; on the contrary, it makes for interpretations which are always new and retain a freshness far removed from the usual routine of the music business. With their receptiveness and enthusiasm for different kinds of musical genres and interpretations, the young musicians take audiences and critics by storm. Many former orchestra members today play in professional orchestras or are well-known soloists – a testimony to the outstanding worth of this measure, sponsored for the benefit of gifted young musicians by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Daimler AG, the German Orchestra Union and the West German Broadcasting Corporation.
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