Throughout this 175th anniversary season, the New York Philharmonic has been celebrating its hometown, as well as exploring the meaning of home, through The New World Initiative.
This past Saturday, a very special Saturday Matinee concert gave audiences a particularly resonant look at the idea of “home” when Philharmonic musicians and Teaching Artists performed works written by students of the Very Young Composer’s Program (VYC), aged 9–22, some of which were inspired by original compositions by Middle Eastern children in refugee camps.
The concert was a result of the Musical Postcards program, through which VYC participants correspond with children in other countries and ultimately compose music in reaction to pieces written by their counterparts abroad. Works on Saturday’s program included “Musical Postcards” from New York composers to those in Venezuela, Israel, and Syria as well as a work by an Afghan refugee.
Jennifer Sime, Senior Vice President, United States Programs, of the International Rescue Committee, opened the concert with remarks about the current refugee crisis.
As Jon Deak, Artistic Director of VYC, said: “The spirit of these displaced children inspires us. Our New York kids have expressed solidarity by answering their counterparts with their own music.”
The works performed were:
Claudia Meléndez (Venezuela) El Secreto
Cassandra Stevens (New York) Where Is Home?
Naama Rolnick (Israel) Keep Walking
Chi-Chi Ezekwenna (New York) Sequence of War
Ram Shanati (Syria) Watar (String)
Nina Moske (New York) 11,000,000
Milad Yousufi (Afghanistan) Freedom
Above, New York Philharmonic musicians and Teaching Artists who performed pose with (left to right): Milad Yousufi, Naama Rolnick, Nina Moske, Cassandra Stevens, and Chi-Chi Ezekwenna.
The performers, all of whom donated their services, encouraged the audience to reach out to children in need, naming three possible organizations to support: Doctors Without Borders, New York Philharmonic Education Fund, and International Rescue Committee.
“The healing and creative power of children is a wonder to behold. We feel that now, more than ever, it is important to listen to them,” Deak said.
(Photo: Chris Lee)