Arlene Portney became the first American woman pianist to win first prize in a major international competition when she captured the Prix Beracasa in Paris, France.
The New York Youth Symphony is the most awarded youth program of its kind in the nation, recognized for its innovative, tuition-free educational programs for talented young musicians. Founded in 1963 as an orchestra to showcase the metropolitan area’s most gifted musicians ages 12-22, its activities have since grown to encompass programs in chamber music, conducting, composition, and jazz, with performances at world class venues including Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Through its commissioning program, First Music, the NYYS has commissioned over 140 works from young composers since 1984.
The careers of world-renowned conductors, musicians, and composers have been assisted by their early experiences with the New York Youth Symphony. Our former music directors and program alumni include Leonard Slatkin (Detroit Symphony Orchestra), Myung-Whun Chung (Seoul Philharmonic), David Alan Miller (Albany Symphony Orchestra), Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra), Marin Alsop (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Cho-Liang Lin (Soloist; Rice University), Gary Levinson (Dallas Symphony), Michael Tiscione (Atlanta Symphony), Lawrence Dutton (Emerson Quartet), Kenneth Mirkin (New York Philharmonic), Joel Smirnoff (Juilliard String Quartet), Fred Zlotkin (NY City Ballet), and Pedro Diaz (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), among many others.
To educate and inspire young musicians through exceptional ensemble training and performance opportunities.