BAYOF Pictures are on SmugMug

I’ve just finished uploading pictures of YPSO rehearsal and performance at BAYOF to SmugMug. Festival orchestra pictures will follow in a couple of days.


Weill Hall. Green Music Center

Weill Hall. Green Music Center

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The Golden Hall

I finally finished uploading the pictures to the SmugMug Site.

The last ones to be sorted and processed were the most precious pictures from the Golden Hall in Musikverein in Vienna. As you know, this venue had extremely strict rules and if not for the generosity of YPSO and NJYS donors we wouldn’t have those pictres.

Please, enjoy them (as well as the rest of the site. You can post comments, rate the pictures, share them on Facebook and Twitter. The more the merrier. And, upload yours.

Thanks for sharing the music.

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SmugMug Update

Vladimir is making great progress updating our photo galleries on SmugMug.  About 500 photos have been uploaded to date and he should have the remainder ready by the end of the week.  All pictures are full resolution and can be printed via SmugMug or on your own.  Some post-processing has been done however no retouching so feel free to manage this yourselves.  This photo sharing site was meant to be interactive so please feel free to comment, rate or add captions.  We really do appreciate the feedback!  Vladimir has done an incredible job documenting the tour, but he was also a chaperone and therefore did not have flexibility to roam at will.  Apologies in advance for not representing everyone equally.  We welcome the addition of your own photos to the gallery.  Please use this link:

Please use your judgment and upload only the best photos.  If you can caption and sort into the categories already existing that would be greatly appreciated.  Cheers!

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Day 10: We’re back!

We safely returned home with no students lost or instruments damaged in flight.  Comment from two weary musicians as we waited to re-enter at customs:  “That was such a great tour, I wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Thank you so much to all the friends and family who supported YPSO and the tour this year.

Thank you so much to the team of energetic, dedicated chaperones who kept everyone safe and on time:

  • Kari and Kevin Dimler
  • Ann and Jack Eastman
  • Elena and Vladimir Gurevich
  • Shelly Gin Lee
  • Lynn Mackay
  • Denise and Rob Olson
  • Dave Wolf
  • Juliana Wong

Thank you to Susan Mann, our tour manager who steered us through the rough rapids so quietly and efficiently that our musicians could have this unique cultural experience without even knowing about the turbulence.

Most of all, thank you to David Ramadanoff whose extraordinary devotion to music and whose faith in young musicians made it possible for them to have this experience of a lifetime.

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Day 9: YPSO saves the best for last

Our final day on tour was the culmination of many days of planning and preparation which ultimately resulted in a masterpiece.

For our last sightseeing opportunity, we traveled from Melk to Durnstein on a Danube River Cruise that was as peaceful and relaxing as it was picturesque.

Then it was onto Musikverein to rehearse in the famed Golden Hall.  The stage design enables performers to hear each other, and the acoustics in the hall are outstanding.  It is obvious why this historic venue has been home to so many great performers and composers.

For dinner we went down to the Metalliner Salon underneath the Golden Hall.  The performance concert halls and lobby are perfectly preserved in the 1812 Music Society’s elegant style, however the reception rooms and administrative buildings are strikingly modern and sleek.  Quintessential Austrian blend of the old and new!

The evening’s program featured YPSO, New Jersey Youth Symphony and Camerata Medica, the first time that three orchestras have performed on the same program at Musikverein.  1200 tickets were sold!  We continued our water theme of the day, playing Vltava by Smetana and Debussy’s La Mer.  We received many compliments from our Austrian musical friends.  According to several YPSO musicians, performing in the Golden Hall was mind-blowing, awesome and amazing!

Danke Wien!

And now a word from Wendy:

Hi everyone:

Heartfelt thanks to Shelly Gin Lee and Vladimir for writing the blog with such a warm and personal style, and for taking terrific photos.  They have provided a wonderful glimpse of the highlights of the trip.  She and Vladimir spent many ridiculously late nights trying to coax the internet to cooperate so folks at home could follow along with us.

I want to share a little more detail about the closing concert.

Our musicians made us proud by adhering to the many complex and rigorous rules of this venerated concert hall; they behaved very professionally in some very challenging situations.  The hall has a strict prohibition against photography, but due to an eleventh hour negotiation with NJYS and the administration of the Musikverein, and with the unexpected generosity of two remarkable donors, I was able to strike an agreement that enabled Vladimir to document this historic event.  As you will see, the orchestra members looked stunning on the stage.

For this final performance, YPSO pulled out all the stops and gave what was arguably the best performance in its 76-year history.  As David said, they have taken ownership of the music.  Vltava had a spark and ease to it, born of the familiarity of performing it throughout the tour.  La Mer came together with a sophistication and maturity that was way beyond what anyone would expect from such young musicians, and the audience was moved beyond words.  The last chord of the Debussy is something I will remember for my whole life.

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Day 8: YPSO at play

The YPSO musicians work hard to produce beautiful music together.  Following last night’s concert they therefore are very deserving of a day at play!

We so enjoyed the taste of the Hofburg earlier this week that we decided to return to visit the ancient musical instrument exhibit.  There were some very interesting prequels of violins, harps, pianos, trumpets and many more.  While wandering the marble slabbed halls of the Hofburg salons we bumped into our New Jersey Youth Orchestra colleagues at the museum.  It was great for David to meet his counterpart and we look forward to Thursday evening’s event with our new friends.

For a change, chaperones found gourmet edibles at local shops so students could lunch en plein air on the green outside the Schonbrunn.

World Projects reserved three guided audio tour sessions for us at Schonbrunn Palace, the residence of the Habsburg emperors, particularly known as the former Rococo summer residence of the much beloved Empress Sisi.  All I can say is Wunderbar!  Our students agreed.

Our next stop was the Belvedere Museum, a Baroque palace housing the new Museum of Contemporary Art.  There was a remarkable collection of fine art, but the most well-attended salon contained Gustav Klimt, extremely popular with our YPSO art aficionados.

We are not solely dedicated to intellectual pursuits…There’s nothing like Wiener Prater which contains Wurstelprater amusement park to help our kids let loose.  Extreme cavorting !

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Day 7: Another suitcase in another hall

YPSO packed up the coaches for a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia today.  The weather has turned cool in the low 70s with a pleasant breeze, perfect for touring.  Our buses safely crossed through the border amidst level fields of flourishing crops and within an hour glimpsed the picturesque old town and castle of Bratislava.

We disembarked at the Bratislava River Center and knew we had landed in a distant village because the WC facilities suddenly cost E.50 !?!?

We strolled with our four local guides to the Old Town and got a flavor for the unique Slovakian culture.  Post-communist Slovakians wanted to rebuild the city with the character that exemplified the people’s humor and optimism, refurbishing and painting its buildings in bright colors with whimsical flare.

It turns out that many of the greatest European composers spent productive time in Slovakia.

St. Michael’s Tower is the last surviving tower of Bratislava’s original military towers erected to protect the town.

The Old City Hall and other buildings in the area are still used today for administrative purposes.

We enjoyed lunch and shopping in the Old Town on our own with friends.

Some found the experience of eating traditional Slovakian fare transformative!

The orchestra has had plenty of experience accompanying soloists throughout the season, but this was their first time ever playing with Marion Svetlik.  Mr. Svetlik is concertmaster of the Slovak Radio Symphony.  His interpretation of the Bruch violin concerto was different from our previous soloist’s and equally gorgeous.  The orchestra accompanied him beautifully and Mr. Svetlik was very complimentary.

Before the concert, we enjoyed a group dinner at the elegant restaurant Reduta opposite the Slovak Philharmonic Hall.

The Slovak Radio Concert Hall is actually a recording studio, and our hosts recorded the concert.  They will broadcast it on a very popular and prestigious classical music program.  Their announcer will introduce YPSO.  We will let you know the broadcast date as soon as we hear more details.

Besides many family and friends, we recruited some new YPSO fans including our bus drivers and tour guides.  After spending many days with these seemingly normal, goofy American kids, they were blown away by their talent, artistry and impressive work ethic.

Maestro David post-performance said, “I think that was the best that we’ve ever played Rimsky-Korsakov!”

Posted in Bratislava, Central Europe | 7 Comments