In a letter to STYI members, Allen Liu reflects on his summer experience at the National Youth Orchestra 2 summer program and discusses activities in the program that have inspired him to look to the future and long-term goals of STYI. He also shared some of thoughts in a blog post on Carnegie Hall’s website.

Dear STYI,

I hope that you have had a good summer and am looking forward to STYI this year. Last month I had the opportunity to participate in the National Youth Orchestra 2, or NYO2, a program that brings musicians with diverse backgrounds from all throughout the U.S. together to perform and participate in workshops and projects. It was an amazing experience that also inspired me to think about the possible directions that STYI could take within the coming years.

At NYO2, beyond our primary musical activities such as performances, masterclasses, rehearsals, and lessons, we participated in several special events and projects. Project 440, a music education and arts leadership organization based in Philadelphia, led a social entrepreneurship workshop in which we discussed how to design and execute ideas for improving the musical community around us, and the workshop culminated with a “shark tank” in which we pitched our ideas for musical products and services.

While in Philadelphia during our final weekend, we played in two special side-by-side events. We had the opportunity to rehearse at the Curtis Institute with students in the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth. We also mentored the students and conversed wth them about our musical and personal backgrounds. On the final day, we played in a large “side-by-side-by-side-by-side” concert, which combined NYO2, NYO-USA, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and student musicians from throughout Philadelphia into an orchestra of 350 musicians. Here is a video.

I thought that the most impressive aspect of all of these events was that Carnegie Hall, which organizes NYO2, was able to create close interaction between NYO2 and the surrounding musical community. The staff, along with the leaders of Project 440, continually spoke about making classical music more accessible, and I thought that our activities really opened my eyes to creative and meaningful ways of doing so.

I think that the idea of making music more accessible by fostering a similar collaboration in Chattanooga fits really well with STYI’s mission, and looking to the future and long-term goals of STYI, I would really like for us to consider how we can allow students from different schools, musical organizations, and backgrounds to collaborate with each other. Some ideas that might eventually evolve into projects that came to my mind were a peer-mentoring workshop or side-by-side performance like what NYO2 did in Philadelphia but on a smaller scale – or a “chamber music festival” in which music students from throughout Chattanooga got together and read through music together. I’m really interested in hearing about your ideas, so it would be great if you could share.