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N.Y. Philharmonic Very Young Composers Draw Media Spotlight

Posted June 25, 2018


As you may have seen, Camryn Cowan and Jordan Millar, 11-year-old students in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC) program, have received a joyous burst of media attention after being featured along with their compositions in the New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer.

In his review of the June 14 Central Park concert, The New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini raved about the young womens’ pieces, both inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, and insightful stage remarks. He wrote that Ms. Millar’s Boogie Down Uptown has “layered elements, starting with a theme in unison that splits into parallel intervals, then leads to episodes with brassy flourishes and bluesy turns over urgent rhythmic riffs,” and that Ms. Cowan’s Harlem Shake “bustles with sliding brass, sputtering rhythms and an episode of instrumental interplay. At the end, the audience stood and cheered both composers.”

On Saturday the Times — “to start your weekend on a positive note,” as it said — ran a feature story that focused on the two and on the Very Young Composers program. The photos accompanying the article — and its many social-media shares — captured perfectly the girls’ thoroughly winning aura, as well as their strength and seriousness, and audio clips gave readers a taste of the two compositions.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? On television, WPIX ran a story featuring footage of the Prospect Park concert and interviews with the girls and VYC Founder / Artistic Director Jon Deak. Check it all out, and congratulations to all!

Meet the 11-year-old girls whose music wowed the @nyphilharmonic. Last week, the #Philharmonic performed works by Camryn Cowan and Jordan Millar, who were photographed here by @celestesloman. The Brooklyn composers won over the crowds, who gave standing ovations. In an interview this week, both girls — part of the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers initiative — were confident in explaining their works, originally written for a Harlem Renaissance-theme program. Camryn said that her “Harlem Shake” was an exercise in layering, but with saxophone improvisations that nodded to the neighborhood’s past. Jordan’s “Boogie Down Uptown” conjures stepping out of the subway onto the streets of Harlem for the first time, with musical textures inspired by the shadowy movement of Aaron Douglas paintings. (Her favorite Disney movie, “The Princess and the Frog,” borrows its aesthetic from his paintings.) Jordan said that their opportunity to have their pieces performed by the @nyphilharmonic is a sign of change. Camryn added: “Women are sometimes put down in orchestras, or they’re not noticed enough for their great talent,” she said, “so I think that me being onstage is a good change. Other people, other kids or adults — maybe they don’t have this same opportunity. I think we can be inspiring for them.”

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