American Youth Symphony Presents 'Freedom: A Celebration Of Human Rights'
The American Youth Symphony (AYS) presents their annual gala concert, "Freedom: A Celebration of Human Rights," in partnership with Human Rights Watch, on Saturday, April 21, at 5:00 p.m. in UCLA's Royce Hall. This special performance is the brainchild of AYS Music Director, Carlos Izcaray, who was himself a victim of human rights violations at the hands of Venezuela's National Guard in 2004. This pivotal experience led him to become a champion of human rights around the world, and a firm believer in music as a vehicle to voice a message of freedom and justice for all. The concert opens with Strike Fugaz, a world premiere by Maestro Izcaray commissioned especially for this event, and written in the celebrated tradition of creating music as a tool for social change.
All works programmed for this event were inspired by challenging moments in our history. Silvestre Revueltas' Homenaje a Federico García Lorca commemorates the life of the famed poet killed during the Spanish Civil War. Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait, which will be narrated by actor Robert Desiderio, was written during World War II to remind American audiences of another time of triumph over adversity. Closing the concert, Beethoven's iconic Eroica Symphony celebrates the idealistic spirit of the French Revolution.
"I'm very grateful to the NEA for providing AYS the opportunity to put together a program that highlights music as an art form with the power to express the complex array of sentiments tied to the subject of human rights," says Izcaray. "Over several generations, many composers and musical performers have created works that voice a message of freedom and justice for all humanity, and we look forward to featuring several of these works in partnership with Human Rights Watch."
The concert is preceded by a Q&A at 4:30 pm, exploring the use of music to uplift the human spirit and effect change. Panelists include Clara Long, a specialist on US immigration and border policy, working as an advocate with Human Rights Watch; and Joanna Demers, a Professor of Musicology at USC's Thornton School of Music, who writes both scholarly and creative works examining philosophical themes in music.
The concert will be followed by the AYS Gala Dinner - the orchestra's largest annual fundraiser - honoring loyal AYS supporter and life-long philanthropist Edna Weiss, celebrating the occasion of her 100th birthday.
"Freedom: A Celebration of Human Rights" is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kaman Foundation, and The Flora L. Thornton Foundation.
About Human Rights Watch
A nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization, Human Rights Watch consists of over 400 human rights professionals, including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Known for accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy, the organization publishes more than 100 reports and briefings on human rights conditions in some 90 countries, meets with governments, the United Nations, regional groups, financial institutions, and corporations to press for changes in policy and practice that promote human rights and justice around the world.
About Carlos Izcaray
Carlos Izcaray, now completing his second season as Music Director of AYS, has an international reputation as one of the leading conductors of his generation. A seasoned composer, conductor and educator, Izcaray is a strong believer in supporting younger generations, working extensively with the world's top talents and leading music institutions. Throughout his career, Izcaray has shown special interest and prowess in tackling some of the most complex scores in the symphonic repertoire, while championing a historically informed approach to works from past eras. He also serves as Music Director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, with whom his most recent orchestral composition, Yellowhammer, received rave reviews for its world premiere in February 2018.
About American Youth Symphony
Heralded as "the finest youth symphony on earth," by KUSC's Jim Svejda, the American Youth Symphony has been fulfilling its mission to inspire the future of classical music for over 50 years. AYS presents exceptional, innovative concerts based on a landmark Fellowship program for young professional musicians in high school through doctoral music programs. Competitively selected, the 100-piece orchestra represents extraordinary talent from all over the world. AYS concerts are shared for free or significantly reduced admission. By gifting the community with remarkable performances at world-class venues, the American Youth Symphony remains committed to creating access and opportunity for everyone to experience the power and inspiration of this beautiful art form.