New York Youth Symphony Nominated for Grammy Award

New York Youth Symphony Nominated for Grammy Award

Jocelyn Kim, Staff Writer

This year, Grammy nominations for best orchestral performance sent a shock through the THS community. The New York Youth Symphony’s debut album, featuring a few THS students, won a nomination.

THS students Iris Sung (’23), Angelina Lee (’23), Tyler Jeong (’24), and Chang-Yoon Kim (’26) all performed on the album. The orchestra’s music director, Michael Repper, rehearsed pieces by Black composers and had the album recorded during the pandemic. The purpose of the album was to bring greater awareness to social injustice issues like the police murder of George Floyd. Repper believed these were issues that needed to be discussed more and wanted to spark important conversation through his music. “We need to promote music that deals with these issues,” Repper said in an interview with The New York Times. The album was put together primarily remotely over the course of six weeks, with the exception of four days of socially-distanced rehearsals and recordings. The untitled album consists of six songs and is a total of 52 minutes long. 

While recording the pieces, the young musicians were thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work on such a significant project, especially following the hiatus of Carnegie Hall concerts due to COVID-19. The performance was exceptionally meaningful because it provided the students with the ability to create music even in the midst of a global pandemic. What surprised many of the young performers was that their album was recognized by an organization as well-renowned as the Grammys, despite it being so uncommon for youth orchestras to be recognized on such a large scale. THS student Iris Sung (’23), a violinist and concertmaster of the symphony, described her experience with playing on the album. “I remember feeling really proud of everyone,” Sung said. “It was like a testament to all of our persistence and I can’t say we expected it but, we all kind of hoped for something.” Sung shared the moment when her mother had first told her about the nomination, and how it had felt like all of their hard work as a group had paid off.

Mr. Millar, the THS Director of Choirs and Orchestras, is beyond proud to see his students’ work and all that they have achieved. “As a result of the pandemic, they did a project they have never done before: they did an album recording,” he said. Millar described that if it had not been for the pandemic, the album might not have ever been created and that there is no high school or youth orchestra category for the Grammys. “This means that they were nominated for a Grammy along with some of the greatest orchestras in the world like the Berlin Philharmonic and the Los Angeles with Gustavo Arellano,” he said. Mr. Millar is astonished and could not be prouder of his students.

The album can be listened to on Spotify and is a perfect testimonial to the hard work of the students involved in its production. It also continues to bring attention to the work of its featured Black composers.