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A Masterclass in Carnegie Hall

Dec 5, 2023

Formed just eight years ago under the direction of Aimee Knight, the Foothill Christian Legacy Youth Orchestra has already been to Carnegie Hall twice.

The most recent visit was earlier this year, at the 2023 New York Invitational Music Festival, with the help of Super Holiday Tours. This wonderful relationship began with the first NYC trip in 2019—the youth orchestra’s first trip outside of California—and extended to an eventually cancelled 2020 trip to San Francisco, and then a 2022 trip to Orlando.

The trip included a city tour with activities ranging from ice skating to observation decks, the World Trade Center memorial and more! They also had the chance to see Wicked on Broadway, and enjoy two group dinner experiences together. But biggest of all, the youth orchestra performed in the NY Invitational Music Festival, received the highest award (Gold) possible after a performance on Carnegie Hall’s main stage, and went through an incredible masterclass.

We asked Knight to tell us a bit more about the trip, and what it all meant to her students.

What do you feel like your group gained from the masterclass?

The masterclass was very beneficial to our group. Our clinician, Dr. Mark Laycock, was very knowledgeable about the orchestra’s musical repertoire and was able to add additional advice and education to build on what they had already prepared.

When hosting a masterclass for young, impressionable music students the day before a performance, it’s so important not to overwhelm them or hinder their confidence. In the past, we’ve experienced clinicians who have tried to make major changes in our tempos or musical interpretation, but our orchestra was very grateful for the balance and positive insight that this particular masterclass provided.

What’s it like to perform at Carnegie Hall?

Taking the stage at Carnegie Hall is an experience like no other. From the moment we enter the building and have dressing rooms labeled with “talent” or “artist” and our names, to lining up backstage and seeing the behind-the-scenes process of the highly efficient Carnegie Hall staff, every part of the experience is memorable. You can hear a pin drop on the stage because of the incredible acoustics in the hall.

Many of our older students had a better understanding and appreciation of the depth and history of talent that has performed on that stage in comparison to some of the younger students, but every single one of them got a taste of what it’s like to be treated like a professional musical artist rather than just a music student. I think many of our students are more likely to pursue careers in music because of that experience.

What was a highlight of the trip beyond the masterclass?

Eating dinner with all the students and parents at Gayle’s Broadway Rose; the performing waiters inspired our students to realize there are so many different opportunities in music.

Any advice for other educators interested in travel?

As music educators, we are giving our students a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience that they would not receive if it weren’t for us. Remember those special moments; planning tours is a lot of work, typically for no extra pay, but it’s worth it.

This story originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of Teach & Travel.