NY Youth Symphony wins Grammy for debut album

LOS ANGELES (AFP): The New York Youth Symphony on Sunday won the Grammy for best orchestral performance — the first youth orchestra to do so.

The kids in the ensemble ranged in age from 12 to 22 when they recorded the album during the pandemic’s darkest days.

At Sunday’s show celebrating the best in music, they beat some of the world’s most elite orchestras — including the Berlin and Los Angeles philharmonics, with conductors John Williams and Gustavo Dudamel, respectively — to take home the prize.

“I’m speechless,” conductor Michael Repper, 32, told AFP backstage after accepting the award.

“I have about 97 text messages on my phone that I can’t wait to go through — they are flying off the rails with pride in their own work and that brings a tear to my eye.”

Pandemic restrictions meant recording the album could only happen in smaller groups, meaning the young artists had to wear headphones and use a click track for cues, and the different parts were later synchronized.

The untitled album that celebrates Black composers was produced by Judith Sherman, who this year also added another Grammy to her collection, for classical producer of the year.

“This entire project is a testament to the awesome, awesome impact that young people can have,” Repper said.

“This is a great moment not just for our orchestra, but for young people everywhere.”