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New York Pops Names Kids on Stage Finalists for 34th Birthday Gala

On January 28 and 29, 2017, The New York Pops held auditions for its Kids on Stage program. Twenty students from ten different schools in New York City were selected from a pool of 117 applicants. These students will perform alongside New York Pops musicians, conducted by Music Director Steven Reineke, at the orchestra's 34th Birthday Gala at Carnegie Hall on May 1, 2017.

This year, the Kids on Stage will premiere a new piece written especially for them by composer Nico Muhly entitled "Patterns with Direction." On Saturday, April 1, Steven Reineke, New York Pops Music Director and Conductor, will lead the young musicians through rehearsal of the piece. Directly following, Kelli O'Hara and Bartlett Sher, this year's Birthday Gala Honorees, will join Mr. Reineke for a special Q&A session with the Kids on Stage students.

Kids on Stage students will participate in five rehearsal sessions prior to the Gala, including three rehearsals with PopsEd Teaching Artists, one rehearsal led by Mr. Reineke, and a dress rehearsal at Carnegie Hall. In addition to this incredible onstage experience, five Kids on Stage students will be selected to receive a full three-week scholarship to the French Woods Festival for the Performing Arts music camp in Hancock, NY, for advanced musical studies.

The 20 students selected to participate in Kids on Stage 2017 are:

Luke Actie

Trombone, Grade 8

I.S. 318

Lucinda Bryce

Clarinet, Grade 7

I.S. 318

Eve Budd

Clarinet, Grade 8

I.S. 318

Christian Chanderdatt

Trumpet, Grade 7

I.S. 318

Lukas Chin

Horn, Grade 8

M.S. 74

Julianne Chin-Drachman

Flute, Grade 8

M.S. 51

Anthony Flanders

Clarinet, Grade 8

I.S. 278

Miles Hilger LeDonne von Unwerth

Trumpet, Grade 8

Special Music School

Macy Jiang

Violin, Grade 7

I.S. 223

Sophia Kschwendt

Violin, Grade 7

Hunter College HS

Catherine Li

Flute, Grade 8

M.S. 158

John Liu

Euphonium, Grade 8

I.S. 75

Olivia McCallum

Double Bass, Grade 7

M.S. 180

Stella Oh

Violin, Grade 8

M.S. 158

Nicholas O'Sullivan

Percussion, Grade 8

I.S. 227

Zoe Shack

Trumpet, Grade 6

I.S. 318

Mela Sherman

Euphonium, Grade 8

I.S. 318

Allison Shih

Flute, Grade 8

UN International HS

Aminah Sterling

Flute, Grade 8

I.S. 318

Mondriana Villegas

Clarinet, Grade 8

I.S. 318

"The Kids on Stage program is an immersive learning experience, through which students engage in all aspects of the professional performance process. By participating in the auditions and rehearsals, as well as performing alongside The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, students gain a better understanding of what it means to be a professional musician. The program also helps prepare them for future auditions, while providing a greater awareness of the cultural opportunities here in New York City," said Lisa Beth Vettoso, The New York Pops' Director of Education.

"Having taught instrumental music for the past 28 years, it is exhilarating to watch my students on stage performing alongside world-class musicians in the most prominent performance venue in the world - Carnegie Hall," said I.S. 318 music and band instructor, Will Hakim. "Few students will ever be able to claim that they have experienced this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Many students who have participated in this program have commented, year after year, about the nurturing environment the program provides, and how sharing this experience with their peers helps them grow as young musicians. The enthusiasm shown to me by my students for the opportunity that the New York Pops provides them motivates me to be so passionate about recommending them to this wonderful program."

The New York Pops is dedicated to lifelong learning, and collaborates with public schools, community organizations, children's hospitals, and senior centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. PopsEd allows thousands of New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to participate in fully customizable music programs that blend traditional education with pure fun. PopsEd makes music open to all, and use tools like composition, lyric writing, performance and mentorship to foster learning and unbridled creativity. In doing so, PopsEd excites students and gives them skills that they can apply to all areas of their lives.

The PopsEd Ambassadors are some of the most talented performers working today, brought together in an effort to raise awareness of the incredible programs PopsEd offers to the community.

The New York POPS is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, and the only professional symphonic orchestra in New York City specializing in popular music. Under the leadership of dynamic Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke, The New York Pops continues to re-imagine orchestral pops music. The orchestra performs an annual subscription series and birthday gala at Carnegie Hall. Visit for more information. Follow The New York Pops on Facebook (, Instagram (@thenewyorkpops), and Twitter (@newyorkpops).

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