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NY Youth Symphony First Music Commissions 2020/21

New York Youth Symphony's First Music Program is commissioning 7 new works by emerging American composers to be performed in 2020/21 season.


The NYYS is recognized as a leader in music education and performance in the metropolitan area. It is committed to developing the next generation of musical citizens, whose involvement in music lasts a lifetime, and whose experience of music engagement will fuel their success in life – personal development, creativity, self-discipline, resiliency, and an ability to collaborate with others. The NYYS is also deeply committed to the creation of new music, and since 1984 has commissioned over 170 original works through the First Music program. The works have been premiered by NYYS ensembles at premier venues including Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

First Music has been widely acknowledged as a leading force for bringing the work of gifted young composers to the public’s attention.  According to Symphony Magazine, “During the last two decades, no youth orchestra in the country has been more relentlessly committed to generating new music.” Past First Music composers have gone on to receive a total of 12 Rome Prizes, 16 Guggenheim Fellowships, two Grawemeyer Awards, and 4 Pulitzer Prizes.

The 2020/21 season is the 37th year of First Music. Under the direction of Christopher Theofanidis, award-winning composer and faculty at Yale University, and jazz pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill, a panel of independent professional composers convened in November 2019 to select the young composers who would receive a commission for the 2020/21 season from over 130 applicants.  The selected composers are Jonathan Cziner, Liza Sobel, and Ari Sussman (orchestra); Anteo Fabris (chamber music); and Benjamin Morris, Drew Zaremba, and Matthew Waterman  (jazz).

The three orchestral works will be premiered by the NYYS Orchestra at Carnegie Hall concerts on November 22, 2020, March 7, 2021 and May 9, 2021; the chamber work will be premiered by an NYYS chamber ensemble in May at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall (exact date pending); and the three jazz works will be premiered by the NYYS Jazz at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center in December 7, 2020 and March 8, 2021, and at The TimesCenter in May 2021 (exact date pending). Through a partnership with the Interlochen Center for the Arts (ICA), three composers – Benjamin Morris, Jonathan Cziner, and Anteo Fabris – were selected as Grand Prize winners and their works will receive second performances at the ICA in the summer of 2021. All composers will be flown out to Interlochen to work with students and faculty as they prepare for the second performances.

While providing invaluable support to emerging composers, First Music also plays an important role in helping NYYS fulfill its mission to educate and inspire young musicians.  NYYS students become partners in the exploration of these new works, growing musically as they participate in a collaborative process of rehearsal and preparation, with significant interaction between composers and NYYS ensemble members.

Start and End Dates



New York, New York

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New York, New York


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