Very Young Composers (VYC) was developed by noted composer (and former Associate Principal Bass) Jon Deak to answer the question, "what is children's music?" Working with Mr. Deak and Philharmonic Teaching Artists, public school children, with limited musical background, compose their very own music for Philharmonic musicians to play - often for the full Orchestra. Students make every compositional decision and write every note, with Teaching Artists serving as mentors and scribes. VYC demonstrates children's innate creativity, and provides a glimpse of the future of classical music.

VYC has grown since 1995 to include a number of ongoing initiatives.

After-school workshops through the Philharmonic's School Partnership Program involve 72 fifth-graders, who participate in 12 weekly workshops with Teaching Artists and visiting musicians. Their completed chamber works are performed publicly each spring.

The Philharmonic's School Day Concerts, heard by 10,000 students from the entire metropolitan area, feature performances of fully orchestrated pieces, selected from the prior spring's Very Young Composers premieres. Talented high school composers also write pieces especially for the School Day Concerts.

The Bridge provides graduates of the VYC, who have reached middle school, with the opportunity to develop musical skills and compositional independence as they prepare for advanced studies in composition. Graduates of the Bridge, and older composers whose music the orchestra has performed, assist as Teaching Artist Interns, creating an intensive learning environment for all.

Satellite programs around the United States — in Denver and Vail, CO; Stevens Point, WI; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN – are developing ongoing VYC programs with their own Teaching Artists trained by the Philharmonic.

Projects abroad – in Shanghai, Tokyo, Caracas, and Seoul - have demonstrated that children's creativity knows no borders. VYC introduces radical new ideas into differing educational cultures, which are developing their own approaches.

"Our ultimate aim is not to produce spectacular one-time concerts celebrating children's art - as laudable as these events have been. We are truly dedicated to learning from children, nurturing an art that takes root, flowers, and develops into a truly indigenous expression - and we are talking about small towns in Spain, the jungles of Venezuela and the mountains of Colorado or Japan, as well as in the streets and barrios of New York, San Paulo or Helsinki. Another thrilling aspect of this work is cherishing the small but detectable local differences between an instinctive, true kids' art in Seoul, Wisconsin, Asturias or Shanghai. What an incredible treasure awaits!" —Jon Deak, Young Composers Advocate at the New York Philharmonic

"Very Young Composers demonstrates again and again that students are not empty vessels, but bring vital ideas, experience, and personality to learning. It forces professionally trained composers to rethink some assumptions. And it holds the promise of contributing to a great flowering of musical creativity. When the full New York Philharmonic performs children's compositions for children's audiences, the level of attention spikes, and afterward, the music from the canon of greats is far less remembered than the 10-year-old who composed about her grandmother's stories. It is a privilege and a great responsibility for us at the New York Philharmonic to nurture the evolution and dissemination of Very Young Composers." —Theodore Wiprud, Director of Education, The Sue B. Mercy Chair

  • Very Young Composers Schools
    All participage in the School Partnership Program.

    PS 11, Brooklyn
    PS 24, Bronx
    PS 39, Brooklyn
    PS 59, Manhattan
    PS 108, Manhattan
    PS 165, Manhattan
    PS 199, Manhattan
  • Very Young Composers Teaching Artists
    Jon Deak, Young Composers Advocate at the New York Philharmonic
    Daniel Felsenfeld
    Avery Griffin
    Justin Hines
    Beata Moon
    Angelica Negron