New York Philharmonic Launches Young People’s Concerts Play!

Mike Lawson • News • November 3, 2016

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NY Philharmonic Young People’s Concert Photo: Michael DiVitoThe New York Philharmonic has launched Young People’s Concerts Play!, a new online learning platform making Young People’s Concerts (YPCs) — the Philharmonic’s signature concert series that introduces young audiences to musical topics through repertoire of all periods — available for on-demand streaming, enhanced by innovative interactive lessons for classrooms (grades 3–6). The first releases include YPCs focusing on Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, available for free at

In the spring of 2017 the Philharmonic will release a YPC focusing on Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World, recorded from YPCs for Schools concerts taking place January 18–21, 2017. The program is part of The New World Initiative, the Philharmonic’s season-long, citywide project revolving around Dvořák’s New World Symphony and its theme of “home” through performances, community outreach, and education projects on the occasion of the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season.

Young Peoples Concerts Play! will also make available on-demand Philharmonic performances of works by students in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program (ages 10–16), which took place as part of YPCs for Schools over the past seven seasons. Each video includes brief interviews with the young composers.

Additional Young People’s Concerts Play! releases will be announced.

The interactive features of Young People’s Concerts Play! include composition games designed by New York University’s MusEdWorks, Inc., led by Alex Ruthmann, NYU Steinhardt Professor of Music Education & Music Technology; teaching videos about themes of the central musical works; and “Build Your Own Orchestra,” an interactive audio-visual experience created by Musicjelly and commissioned in partnership with London’s Barbican Centre that allows students to explore and deconstruct an orchestral piece with Philharmonic players. As part of an initiative to bring these concerts to more New York City classrooms, in particular those in underserved neighborhoods, Philharmonic Teaching Artists will visit such schools to demonstrate the platform in-person. Feedback from teachers and students will inform the development of future Young Peoples Concerts Play! releases.

“I am proud that the Philharmonic is bringing into the digital age its famed Young People’s Concerts, which for almost a century have ignited a lifelong love of classical music in tens of thousands of young people,” said Philharmonic President Matthew VanBesien. “Young People’s Concerts Play! not only enhances this signature blend of music and education, but also allows us to reach even more young people throughout the world. This is one of the many ways we are using technology to bring the Philharmonic to more people and to provide a service to our community. I would like to thank the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Hearst Foundations, and National Endowment for the Arts for making all of this possible.”

“The Philharmonic harnessed the power of technology when Leonard Bernstein hosted the televised Young People’s Concerts half a century ago,” said Theodore Wiprud, Philharmonic Vice President, Education, The Sue B. Mercy Chair. “Now, with Young People’s Concerts Play! we are tapping the emerging strengths of digital streaming and interactivity to bring musical learning and enjoyment alive anywhere in the world. The fabulous contributions of the Philharmonic musicians and Teaching Artists, as well as of our like-minded colleagues at the Center for Children and Technology and at MusEdWorks, have all been vital in making this project a reality.”

The Young People’s Concerts Play! learning platform was created by Philharmonic Teaching Artists working with staff from the Center for Children and Technology (CCT, part of the nonprofit Education Development Center) and Philharmonic staff to translate their in-school workshops for Philharmonic Schools into interactive lessons for Young People’s Concerts Play!.

Young People’s Concerts Play! continues the Philharmonic’s tradition of sharing YPCs as widely as possible. The Philharmonic presented its first of the current YPC series on January 26, 1924. The series was televised from 1958 to 1972, conducted and hosted by Philharmonic Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein. The Philharmonic has taken YPCs around the world, including to Tokyo in 2004 and 2009; Hong Kong in 2008; Shanghai in 2008, 2015, and 2016; Abu Dhabi in 2009; and London in 2012 and 2015, both as part of its International Associate residency at the Barbican Centre.

Education at the New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic has been a leader in education since the 19th century, and its groundbreaking educational events continue today, collectively serving more than 40,000 people at live events, and millions more online, each year. Young People’s Concerts (ages 6–12) explore the repertoire with the full Orchestra. In Very Young People’s Concerts (ages 3–6), Philharmonic musicians introduce preschool children to classical music through games, active listening, and hands-on music-making. Young People’s Concerts for Schools (grades 3–12) are developed by Philharmonic Teaching Artists and partner school teachers to adapt Young People’s Concerts to classroom audiences, many of whom have been prepared through the in-school curriculum offered by Philharmonic Schools, the immersive classroom program spearheaded by the Philharmonic’s Teaching Artists. The Very Young Composers program (grades 4–12) enables students to compose their own music and hear it performed by Philharmonic musicians, often the full Orchestra; communities in the U.S. and abroad have established their own versions of Very Young Composers with assistance from the Philharmonic. Insights at the Atrium are free discussions for adults delving into the themes of the season. The New York Philharmonic Global Academy comprises customized collaborations with partners worldwide that offer intensive training of pre-professional musicians by New York Philharmonic members, often alongside regular performance residencies by the full Orchestra.

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