Ensemble Connect Musicians Embark on Second Year of Prestigious Fellowship Program

Mike Lawson • News • October 4, 2019

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Ensemble Connect continues its two-year fellowship program this season with concerts at Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School, as well as residencies and performances at The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Skidmore College, and in schools and community venues throughout New York City.

Ensemble Connect, which is now in its 13th season, is a two-year fellowship program for extraordinary young professional classical musicians in the United States that prepares them for careers that combine musical excellence with teaching, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Ensemble Connect is currently accepting applications for the 2020 fellowship program. For more information, visit the application page here.

Highlights of the Ensemble’s 2019-2020 season include premiere performances of new works by TJ Cole and George Lewis (commissioned by Carnegie Hall); Ensemble Connect Up Close – the second Weill Music Room concert series curated by the fellows; a new collaboration with Orli Shaham’s Bach Yard; and a performance with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as part of Carnegie Hall’s All Together: A Global Ode to Joy during the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. The ensemble also returns to Paris for a week-long residency in May, participating in workshops, performing concerts, and giving interactive performances at local Paris schools. The season concludes with Ensemble Connect’s biannual partner school festival performance at Manhattan School of Music’s Neidorff-Karpati Hall in May.

This fall Ensemble Connect was invited back for a second residency at The Pocantico Center from September 23–26 in Tarrytown, New York. During the four-day residency the fellows worked with composer George Lewis who will be writing a piece for the entire ensemble, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, to be premiered at The Pocantico Center on June 2 (rain date June 3). The ensemble’s first residency at The Pocantico Center in 2017 had the musicians collaborating with composer Andy Akiho on Cobalt Canvas (commissioned by Carnegie Hall), which culminated in performances at The Pocantico Center and the Rite of Summer Music Festival in June 2018, and also a music video.

Ensemble Connect presents a second season of its Ensemble Connect Up Close series in the Weill Music Room in Carnegie Hall’s Resnick Education Wing this spring. Two performances, curated by the fellows, explore different approaches to presenting classical music by experimenting with concert formats, audience engagement, and multimedia to activate the performance space in exciting new ways. The first concert in early spring has the fellows explore the play between music and dance, while the second concert showcases the relationship between listening and improvisation. Each ticket for these performances comes with a voucher for a free drink. Dates for the 2020 concert series are to be announced.

In a new collaboration with pianist Orli Shaham this season, Ensemble Connect presents a series of interactive concerts as part of Orli Shaham’s Bach Yard, for children in pre-Kindergarten and early elementary school. Bach Yard combines live ensemble performances with storytelling, and a host of hands-on activities that introduce children to musical concepts, instruments, and the experience of concert-going. Concerts will be held at Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center and Princeton University in spring 2020.

As part of Carnegie Hall’s All Together: A Global Ode to Joy celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday this season, Ensemble Connect works with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and participants from Weill Music Institute’s (WMI) broad range of education and social impact programs on All Together: Songs for Joy on Sunday, April 5 at 7 p.m. in Zankel Hall. Music educators, teaching artists, young musicians, and students in Carnegie Hall’s WMI programs will write original songs inspired by poet laureate Tracy K. Smith’s re-imagination of Freidrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy.”

In addition to their performances this season, Ensemble Connect will continue their residencies at 20 New York City public schools, with each musician working alongside a partner instrumental music teacher, bringing their expert musicianship as well as a professional performer’s perspective to band, keyboard, and string classrooms in all five boroughs. The two-year partnership culminates in a performance by students from each partner school at Manhattan School of Music’s Neidorff-Karpati Hall in May 2020.

Ensemble Connect presents 80 interactive performances in schools this season. Fellows develop these programs to explore a music piece or concept and incorporate listening activities and audience participation. Ensemble Connect will also partner with community venues in New York City bringing 16 interactive performances to correctional facilities, senior-care centers, homeless shelters, and organizations working with special-needs populations.

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