Asian Youth Orchestra marks 25 years with tour of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan

Posted on: August 7, 2015

In Friday’s (8/7) International New York Times, Joyce Lau writes about the Hong Kong-based Asian Youth Orchestra, whose “103 instrumentalists—chosen  from more than 800 applicants, aged 17 to 27, from a dozen nations and territories across Asia” have been rehearsing for a three-week tour beginning Saturday “across mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan…. In past years, the orchestra has played at the White House, the Hollywood Bowl and Avery Fisher Hall, in New York…  The Asian Youth Orchestra [was] founded in 1990 by the violin maestro Yehudi Menuhin and [current conductor Richard] Pontzious…. Pontzious said the spirit of the Asian group was closest to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra … whose goal is to bring together musicians divided by the politics of the Middle East…. The Asian Youth Orchestra’s demographics have shifted with Asia’s economic development. In the 1990s, it was dominated by Japanese players. But when Japan’s economy faltered and China’s grew, more Chinese members came on board. There is also an evolving contingent from Southeast Asia…. Kevin Julius Castelo, who is 23 and just graduated from the University of the Philippines as a percussion major, is on his fourth tour. He was a talented high school drummer who played in a rock band but had little exposure to classical music or instruments. ‘It’s not like other countries, with better secondary school programs,’ he said. ‘I didn’t even know how to read notes.’ ”

Posted August 7, 2015