SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) has announced its 2022-2023 season. The new season, which spans from September through early June, features 30 unique performances, fourteen ESYO ensembles and CHIME, hundreds of young musicians from upstate New York and western Massachusetts, and thousands of hours of dedicated rehearsal time.

The season begins on Sunday, October 30 at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall with ESYO’s flagship symphony orchestra performing Beethoven’s 7th Symphony; a work Beethoven described as “the glory of light through darkness.” The concert also features Gabriella Smith’s Field Guide, a musical safari into the natural world, as well as percussion interventions in the Beethoven piece and a student-led instant composition.

Marking his first season as Music Director, violinist, and classical music pioneer Etienne Abelin sees this season as a new movement in ESYO’s four-decade-long history. “The season builds upon what makes the ESYO experience so unique,” said Abelin. “It challenges the most passionate young musicians in the region to see music-making as a joyful pursuit of musical excellence. This new season will carry this hallmark with a sprinkling of something new.”

Abelin, whose musical career has spanned the globe and included performances with famed conductors like Claudio Abbado and Pierre Boulez and cutting-edge artists such as Fabrizio Cassol, and Gabriel Prokofiev, sees the vital role youth orchestras play in our communities. “They are connectors and bridges. They are about presenting and being in the here and now. And orchestras tell stories!” he said.

These ideas are rooted in what Abelin calls MusicNOW; a philosophy curated by Abelin that combines existing and emerging ideas, approaches, and exercises to reawaken and nourish dimensions of music education that are often underdeveloped in today’s musicians. MusicNOW transforms musicians into movers, connectors, storytellers, improvisers, and creators, Abelin says.

These dimensions influence musicianship by being a counterpoint to the rigid perfectionism often associated with orchestra playing. “It allows for more curiosity and risk-taking, which are at the heart of creativity and our sense of well-being,” said Abelin. “It connects music to the movement of our bodies and emotions. It brings a sparkle to our eyes while we breathe together and listen intently to each other,” he continued. “ESYO young musicians increasingly become NOW musicians who, over time, develop excellence in many different ways and dimensions. They are put in the driver’s seat and become true leaders. It’s a multi-year endeavor and I’m thrilled to launch it this season!”

Elements of MusicNOW were unveiled at a weeklong residency by Woodstock-based composer and Soundpainting inventor, Walter Thompson. Soundpainting is an innovative composing sign language that connects music with movement using more than 1500 gestures to compose music live, at the moment, with other musicians, dancers, actors, and visual artists.

Symphony Orchestra Violist Peyton Roach was one of the first to try her hand at Soundpainting. “Soundpainting was a very unique experience,” said Roach. “It was like playing a game. Each gesture from the Soundpainter directly translates to an action that the musicians perform.”

Throughout the year, ESYO will host Soundpainting ensembles and collaborative workshops featuring guest artists and experts in storytelling, creative movement, breathing, and improvisation. Audiences can experience Soundpainting and, as another MusicNOW-inspired novelty, joyful encore performances that include choreography and often unite several ESYO ensembles at various ESYO concerts, including Opening Day with ESYO Symphony Orchestra on October 30.

The season also features a collaboration with RPI’s Rensselaer orchestra featuring Music: Eyes, a new digital music visualization tool, the return of CBS’s Melodies of Christmas after a two-year pause, performances by ESYO’s new student-led Chamber Orchestra, ESYO’s Annual Young People’s Concert on March 8th, and the Lois Lyman Concerto Competition. The season concludes on June 4, 2023, at Carnegie Hall, a fitting finale to an exciting season.

Young musicians interested in joining ESYO this season may audition for ESYO by attending an open rehearsal this fall or attending the ESYO’s Open Audition at Proctors on Friday, September 30, or Saturday, October 1, 2022. Auditions are held each fall to fill vacancies in certain ensembles. To learn more about joining, visit the ESYO website.

2022-2023 FALL CONCERT SCHEDULE

Opening Day Matinee
SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Sunday, October 30, 2022, 3:00 p.m.
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

ESYO PERCUSSION ENSEMBLES
Monday, November 7, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
Brown School, Schenectady

REPERTORY ORCHESTRA, STRING ORCHESTRA, 
& CONCERTINO STRINGS
Sunday, November 13, 2022, 3:00 p.m.
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

YOUTH JAZZ ORCHESTRA & REPERTORY JAZZ ORCHESTRA
Sunday, November 20, 2022, 3:00 p.m.
Carl B. Taylor Auditorium at SUNY Schenectady

THE HOLIDAYS AT ESYO

WIND ORCHESTRA 
Saturday, December 10, 2022, 3:00 p.m.
Massry Center for the Arts at The College of St. Rose

MELODIES OF CHRISTMAS
Featuring ESYO Symphony Orchestra & the Melodies of Christmas Chorale
Thursday December 15 – Sunday December 18, 2022
MainStage at Proctors, Schenectady 
Proceeds benefit the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer & Blood Disorders at the Albany Medical Center.

ESYO PERCUSSION HOLIDAY CONCERT
Tuesday, December 20, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
Brown School, Schenectady

ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES

ESYO YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERT
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 10:30 a.m.
MainStage at Proctors

ESYO SENIORS CONCERT
Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 1:00 p.m.
MainStage at Proctors

ESYO PLAYATHON
Saturday, March 25, 2023
Crossgates Mall

SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AT CARNEGIE HALL
Sunday, June 4, 2023, 2:00 p.m.
Carnegie Hall, New York, NY