Requiem for a Broken Orchestra

By Josh Yarden


If you haven’t yet heard of the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, it’s high time you were looped in to that strange and wonderful experience. Roughly 375 musicians of all skill and artistic levels rehearsed and performed together. Three generations of children and adults, including people who could barely read music, sitting side by side with amateur and professional musicians, music teachers, professors of music and members of the world renowned Philadelphia Orchestra.



We all came together to play broken instruments, in a composition by Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang, which he wrote for this one weekend event. Where did we find 375 broken instruments? Unfortunately, that was the easy part. They were chosen from among more than 1000 broken instruments owned by the School District of Philadelphia.

The Broken Orchestra had its world premier and its final performance on the same weekend, and that orchestra will never be assembled again… Not if you if you can help it. The cameras are gone, and the recording is over. But we still have work to do. We can all still ‘adopt an instrument‘ and fund the repairs needed to put it in the hands of an aspiring music student. Do it, and you will be handing a child the keys that open the door on a world of exploration, experimentation, and discovery.

Make a world of difference in someone’s life

Music education is not just about being in the band or the orchestra. That would surely be enough, but there is so much more bang for the buck! Young musicians show up, follow directions, learn to read music, recognize patters, play their part and perform in a creative community of learners. In doing so, they 

attain all the transferable skills they need to engage in any social collaboration, become self-directed—and, learning to play a musical instrument has been demonstrated to enhance the brain functions needed for literacy and numeracy.

We hear a great deal about the importance of STEM education, emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Researchers have discovered that artistic engagement is crucial for the emotional and cognitive development that support academic success, leading them to update STEM to STEAM, to emphasize the importance of the Arts in a well-rounded education. Yet some schools and districts are cutting budgets for arts education, even now, when we can actually see brain scans that show how learning to play a musical instrument promotes the development of neural pathways in multiple areas of the brain. 

Music education is the STEAM engine!

So, let’s power it up and get our children on the right track. Fixing and maintaining 1000 instruments will enable thousands of students to choose a creative path to social engagement and academic success. It is the only fitting Requiem for a Broken Orchestra.


Symphony for a Broken Orchestra drop-off center at Temple Contemporary. (Haley Adair)

Click here to ‘adopt’ an instrument.


A Serious Passion Provides Motivation for Life


Jasyn, shortly before a performance of the All City Jazz Orchestra, at the Kimmel Center

Jasyn Brazoban just completed his junior year at The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. He’s quiet and friendly, with a sheepish smile. In fact, I don’ think he’s capable of not smiling. He may seem like any other student… until you see him with his trombone. Something happens to Jasyn when the music in his heart hits his hands. The smile disappears when he starts to play. He’s not merely a rising senior; he’s a rising star.

The Magic Trombone

“It’s like you are a different person when your holding that horn,” I said. And I meant it. He’s like a little boy looking for direction who becomes a leader when he touches a magical object. He may as well be carrying Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur, on his way to slay a dragon. I asked him, “Am I onto something, or am I off base?” 

“No, I think you’re spot on. I behave a certain way, and dress a certain way, to respect the music. Someone put a lot of effort into creating it, and I want to respect that, to bring it to life.” Like so many All City musicians who see the value of dedicating their time to cultivating their passion, Jasyn is making music everywhere he can. “Ask me to perform anywhere, at any time. Just tell me what I need to play.”

Jasyn doesn’t remember why, but for some reason he set his sights on the trombone from a young age (… maybe because, ‘The wand picks the wizard’?) You might think musicians are born that way: Either you have the magic or you don’t. Fortunately for many aspiring musicians who are afraid they don’t have it, that’s not the way it works.

Welcome to Philadelphia!

Jasyn’s path wasn’t paved with gold. There were no road signs, but there were plenty of diversions on the way to finding his way. He was born in Brooklyn, to parents from Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic. His mother tragically passed away when he was in kindergarten, and he went to live with his father.

My dad was an avid music listener, and loved music from his culture. I think it was mainly because of his love for music as a listener that I began to create a passion for music on my own as a listener and performer.

Jasyn had hoped to begin playing the trombone as early as third grade, but his family moved around a bit, in New York and then in Philadelphia. It wasn’t until he ended up at J.H. Brown Elementary School that the opportunity became a reality. At first he didn’t even know there was a music program at his new school, but he still had that third grader’s dream in mind, so he tracked down the music teacher to ask if he could play the trombone.

Darren Lynch remembers that day:

Jasyn sought me out as a fifth grader. He asked me if he could play the Trombone. I asked him if he even knew what a trombone was. Most young kids don’t want to carry such a large instrument. Jasyn knew from day one that the trombone was going to be his instrument. I am so proud to see the musician he has become, and I know he has a bight future ahead of him.

Back on Track

Jasyn finally picked up the trombone in sixth grade.

Mr Lynch was a great teacher for new kids. He was very serious when it came to music, but very enthusiastic about keeping kids involved and wanting us to progress more on our instruments. I think that was the main reason why I stuck with the trombone when I started it. I think it’s very easy for a student starting an instrument to find it very hard at first, and just be like… ‘Ah, this is not worth my time’, and stop. That wasn’t case for me. Mr. Lynch really pushed us, and he made it interesting.

He continued playing at Austin Meehan Middle School, where he was encouraged to audition for the All City Middle School Band. That was a surprise for him in a number of ways: He’d never heard of ‘All City’, didn’t know how to audition, and didn’t understand what ‘seating’ was. He was just happy to be playing.

The following year, my CIMT [community instrumental music teacher] was Nicole Thomson. I really enjoyed being with her, because she made learning music fun. It was really cool with her, and that was the year when I got bumped up to second trombone. And it started to make sense. If you’re better, you get moved up toward the front. Then it’s toward the end of the year, and she’s presenting me the music for the All City High School audition.”

Thanks to his own persistence, and some great teachers, Jasyn was back on track, but he hit a roadblock in ninth grade. He was not accepted to any of the select schools to which he applied. “I had terrible attendance… yeah, I had a lot of latenesses.” When he got to high school, he already knew he wanted to transfer. He knew he had to do better, and that he could get into a better school.

So, I made sure I got great grades, and I spent a lot of time being on time. It was mainly because of the trombone that my motivation continued. I really wanted to get into an arts school. Rush was my number one choice. So, when I got to high school, I spoke with my music teacher, Josh Anderson, and I told him that I wanted to put together an audition. He was very supportive, and really helped me.

That year I practiced so much. I would get home and practice every day. My teachers told me that there weren’t many trombones there, and that if I could make it academically, I would probably be accepted. I said, I’m not taking my chances. I’m going to practice really hard. It was a very good outcome for me. I advanced a lot and did very well on the audition. 

Working Hard, Playing Hard

Since transferring to Rush, Jasyn has been playing everywhere he can. In addition to school ensembles, he began taking lessons at Temple University’s Community Music Scholars Program (CMSP), where he in the band and the jazz orchestra. He also plays in the UArts Regional Philadelphia High School All-Star Jazz Band, and of course, the Philadelphia School District’s All City Concert Band, All City Orchestra and All City Jazz Orchestra.

Jasyn’s love of music has taken him all over the city and beyond. He also auditioned and was accepted to the El Sistema-based National Take a Stand Orchestra: Youth Orchestra of the East, sponsored by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, held at Bard College in Upstate New York, where he played principle trombone. The All City process has prepared Jasyn to audition anywhere, but he loves Philadelphia, where hopes to study music education at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, or at the University of the Arts. He’s got the grades. And he’ll be on time.

William’s Three Secrets to All City Survival & Success

IMG_1187This could be almost any kid’s story, but let’s focus on one musician who has grown up to the increasingly beautiful sounds of his own clarinet. Whether he’s playing classical or jazz, sitting in the section or standing for a solo, William Klotsas knows his way around the clarinet that has taken him to All City and beyond. He has performed in the district and regional ensembles, and this year he made it all the way to the Pennsylvania Music Educators State Festival. Will also plays in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.

To be honest, I heard Will play when he was in 9th grade, and it didn’t occur to me back then that his future path would lead him in a musical direction. Yet, as we see time and again, every child’s story is moving toward some unwritten and often unpredictable twist in the plot.

In his own words:

“I started All-City Middle School Band in sixth grade in the back of the third clarinets. I had no idea what I was doing then, but today I play first clarinet in the All-City Orchestra and Concert Band, and tenor sax in the All-City Jazz Band. I play in every ensemble I can. It’s been a long journey to where I am now.”

One milestone led to another, and now that he is about to graduate from CAPA, Will is getting ready to ‘pay it forward’. In just a few months he’ll begin studying music education at Temple University’s Boyer School of Music and Dance.

Looking back, I can now reveal the secret All City survive guide! If you want to advance from the back of your section to first chair, then follow these steps:

The first thing you need to do is learn how to practice. I used to play whatever… for about 15 minutes a day, until I realized I was reinforcing bad habits. If you want to improve, you must play scales, long tones, and practice with a metronome. That might seem exhausting and boring, but you get used to it after about three days, and the results are outstanding!

The second thing you need is to find a good teacher that suits you. I’ve had 5 different teachers over the last 3 years. At first I had someone who didn’t speak the same language, then someone who didn’t play the same instrument. Joining All-City enabled me to take lessons with a member of the Philadelphia orchestra, but those lessons ended too soon. I finally found the right person for me. Sean Bailey is a masters student at Temple, and one of the greatest musicians I know. 

The third thing you need to do is to begin acting like a good musician. That means more than playing well. You need to show up to rehearsals on time, be friendly to others in your section, and just be a good human being. Playing music is about enjoying yourself and making connections to other talented people. If you contribute to the best of your ability, then  good things will come your way. 

When I was a sophomore, for example, I had not yet advanced much on the saxophone. But I showed that I was hard working and enthusiastic about the music. That effort landed me in the All City Jazz Band. 

As William’s future is coming into focus, his story is a reminder that becoming a musician isn’t about where your journey begins. It is about the people you meet, the ones you seek out, and the choices you make along the way.

I love playing in an orchestra and bringing art to life. Exploring the world through music makes me happy. If you find happiness through something else, then do that. Music may not be for everyone, but if you love it, then never stop.

Will’s All City formula may not be a secret, yet we all need to learn it for ourselves:

Aspiration+Mentorship+Persistence = Success

Terell Stafford: At the intersection of music and education

[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at, May 29th, 2017]

Terell StaffordAll City & All That Jazz – May 30th!

By Dotan Yarden

Top jazz bands from across the School District of Philadelphia will gather for the annual All-City Jazz Festival on Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM (at CAPA, 901 South Broad St. Admission is free and open to the public.) Closing out the show will be The All-Star Jazz Band, under the direction of Terell Stafford, renowned educator, performer and band leader.

Stafford is the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Music, Director of Jazz Studies, and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. That title may seem like a mouthful, but it is only a partial list of his current roles. He is also the leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, the founder and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in New York City. He has earned awards and accolades playing alongside jazz legends such as McCoy Tyner, Dick Oates, and Wynton Marsalis.

Why Education?
I visited Professor Stafford in his office at Temple University to find out more about Boyer’s music program during my college search. As a student of both classical and jazz music, he assured me that Temple was a place that I could study multiple genres without having to pigeonhole myself. “Music is Music,” he said and explained how all of the aspects of music compliment and elevate each other. Although he is well known as a jazz musician, he first studied music education and classical trumpet performance. He earned a B.S. from the University of Maryland and an M.M. from Rutgers, before shifting into high gear as a jazz musician.

I wondered why someone with such a great career as a performer would want to invest so much time in music education, so I asked. “My basic philosophy,” he explained, “is to impart knowledge to others that I’ve been fortunate to receive. I may have more years of experience than my students, but we’re all trying to gather and accumulate the same information and usually in the same way.”

I inquired about the roots of his passion for education. “My mom was a teacher, a reading specialist. I have pretty severe dyslexia. The time that she and other reading teachers would spend to help me learn to read meant a lot to me. I got to see prime examples of people dedicated to what they love and how it impacts a young person when people are truly dedicated, not just doing it for a salary.”

What’s in store for the All City All Stars?
Regarding the All-Star Jazz Band, Stafford said, “I really want opportunities for Philadelphia student musicians. I want the same opportunities for them that I see in other places that I travel in the States or in the world. I want the All City band to continue to flourish and become tighter as a musical unit, but also as a family. I want it to be the strongest musical component that represents Philadelphia from a youth perspective.”

Seeing how the persistence of his teachers inspired him to give back to his communities continues to be an inspiration for us today. Every rehearsal with Terell Stafford is a master class with a top jazz artist. C’mon down to Broad and Christian for a free concert on Tuesday evening, May 30th, and see for yourself.

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Dotan Yarden plays baritone saxophone in the All Star Jazz Band, Principal Bassoon in the All City Orchestra and Concert Band, and is a PMEA All State musician. Dotan will graduate from CAPA and begin studying bassoon, saxophone, music ed and Jazz Performance at Temple University in 2017.

Alumni Q&A with Leonard Meirson

[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at, February 22nd, 2017]


All City Alum, Leonard Meirson played principal trumpet in the All City Orchestra and Band, Philadelphia Sinfonia, and he was a Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) All-State musician. Leonard has ‘gone off to college,’ but it was easy to track him down. He moved just across the Schuylkill River, to Drexel University, where he is majoring in Entertainment and Arts Management.

Q: So, Leonard, how’s it going at Drexel?

A: So far it’s everything that I hoped college would be: It has a very social atmosphere, with lots of clubs and engaging classes that help prepare you for your intended career. In my first term I participated in Concert Band with Dr. Broadnax, who conducted All-City Concert Band for three years. Now, in my second term, I have also joined the University Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra.

How did you choose your major?

It’s funny, I never really considered Drexel until my senior year. Then I found out that Drexel was one of the only schools in the country that offered arts management as a major. It suddenly hit the number one spot on my college list. It is a terrific major that teaches you every bit of the industry, from concert touring and artist management, to museum and sports management. The major is incredibly broad, but you can take the knowledge from one area and easily apply it to many others. My intended focus is performing arts management.

Do you ever think back on your All City experiences?

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about All City. It was such a great program and I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for All City, which was my first high level orchestra. I remember how nervous I was as a sophomore, seated behind three very talented trumpet players. I had never played music as challenging as Finlandia and Lincoln Portrait. All City pushed me to work hard to become a better trumpet player.

Did All City help prepare you for college? 

Not only did All City prepare me for college, but it actually helped me figure out what I want do in life. I want to go into orchestral management, with the goal of someday becoming the CEO of a professional orchestra. All City helped me realize this by revealing how much I truly love orchestras and classical music. I might have gone into trumpet performance, but I realized that I want to combine my love for classical music with my academic abilities and make a career out of that.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?

I wish I knew not to push myself too hard on the trumpet. This sounds pretty counterintuitive, but I pushed myself so hard in my senior year that my lips actually payed the price. I was participating in all of Masterman’s music ensembles, All City band and orchestra, and I was (and still am) in Philadelphia Sinfonia Youth Orchestra. I also played in PMEA Districts, Regions, and State bands. My lips couldn’t keep up with all of that, so I started to use more pressure and ended up damaging the tissue in my lip. If I had known that that could happen, I would have either practiced a whole lot more, or I would have taken it a bit easier in rehearsals and concerts. Although my lip still is not what it used to be, I have been able to work on my musicality, and I still love playing trumpet!

Is there any particular highlight of your All City experience that stands out in your memory?

Every All City musician from 2015 who participated the Italy concert tour will probably tell you the same thing. That was the greatest highlight of our All-City years. It was the most amazing trip I have ever been on. I was ecstatic when I read the email that All City might be going on tour in Italy. I had never been out of the United States and Canada. Before I knew it, we were heading to Rome. I loved every minute of the rich culture, the amazing food, playing music outside under the setting sun and the night sky. The trip was so meaningful… I’m actually having trouble putting my feelings into words right now. Everything about it was surreal, and I will never forget it.   

Any recommendations for musicians who might want to go into arts management?

Start making connections right now. Arts Management is all about networking. The more people you know, the more job opportunities you will create for yourself in the future. Even if you are interested in rap or jazz, make connections in the classical world too. As I said, skills you learn for one area of the arts can easily be applied to other areas. Knowing lots of people can help ensure greater job security in the future.

One more thing – Any All-City musicians considering Drexel University should look into the Liberty Scholarship. It is a full tuition scholarship that Drexel gives to fifty Philadelphia high school students each year. I would highly recommend applying for it.

Thank you, Leonard. Will we see you at the Kimmel Center for the All City festival concert on the evening of March 8th?

I wouldn’t miss it!

Introducing the Newest All City Musician: Dr. Deborah Confredo

[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at, February 21st, 2017]

By Dotan Yarden

Deb Confredo 1215

All City opens the doors to new musicians each year. Most of them are high school freshmen and sophomores, but this year we have a new Concert Band conductor. CAPA senior and All City principle bassoonist, Dotan Yarden, interviewed Dr. Confredo. Here is his report.

Dr. Confredo is the Director of Graduate Programs in Music Education at Temple University’s Boyer School of Music & Dance. No stranger to youth education, she taught music at the elementary and secondary levels before becoming a professor, and she is still an active guest conductor in honors festivals across the nation.

Parents Make a Difference

Dr. Confredo was lucky enough to grow up in a household buzzing with music, where her parents encouraged her to start piano in second grade. “When I was in junior high school,” she reminisced, “a bunch of friends and I went to a high school football game. I was mesmerized by the sound of the marching band.” She sought out the junior high band director after that, and “incessantly bugged him” about joining the band. Despite financial difficulties, her parents figured out a way for her play bass clarinet. Just six months later, she auditioned into an honors ensemble similar to All City.

“By 9th grade, I knew I wanted to teach music,” she said with wide eyes. “I met with my high school guidance counselor who asked me what I wanted to do after graduation. I told him, I want to teach music. ‘Why would you want to do that? You can be anything you want.’ I replied: “I wanna do this.”

Fast Forward

Today Dr. Confredo is busy conducting everything from honors festivals for students as young as fifth grade, to the community band she founded at Temple University. The T.U. Night Owls includes a diverse array of musicians, from music education majors learning a new instrument to retired people looking to rekindle their love of music, and everything in between – including a few All City members.

“Each group has a different mission and a different end result. If I were to be the same conductor for these different kinds of groups, then I wouldn’t be very effective. You have to be able to reshape your own process and approach to be successful. For young kids, it is important to be their number one cheerleader.”  She also helps them with ensemble etiquette and technique. When students get a bit older, instruction shifts to reinforcing musicianship skills and grasping expressiveness. “For the community band,” she explained, “Everyone is different, so we focus on learning together… I want to be the best musician that I can be. If I go to bed at night, and can say to myself that I have not learned something today, then I have not been paying attention.”

Why add All City to an already busy schedule?

“Public outreach is a really important part of my job. The more I work with young people, the better teacher I am. Part of my role [as a professor at a major research university] has to be bridging the gap between research and practice.” Her major goal for all city this year is to have a spectacular performance. She also cited the importance of getting the lay of the land. Dr. Confredo remarked that she “felt a real sense of positive energy” at the first All-City rehearsal, “like everybody wanted to be there, and that came through in their playing.”

Dr. Confredo still performs regularly, primarily on saxophone. She was in a classic rock band for a while, and plays jazz with her husband. She also subs in different groups around the area. “I don’t play nearly as much as I want to, but I still do play, which is a very cool thing.”

One more very cool thing: We are privileged at All City to have dedicated conductors who love what they do. Experiencing their passion projected into the air at our rehearsals is an essential aspect of making the music come alive. This intense drive for perfection and growth is something we will be able to take with us anywhere we go.



  1. Walter Johnson February 22, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    A great article about a great conductor.

  2. Peg March 8, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Great concert. We Night Owls are willing to share Dr. Confredo as long as she’s still there for us!

Looking East From Eastman

[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at, January 24th, 2017]

Q & A with Danielle RomanoDanielle Romano

We know Danielle as a former member of the All City Concert Choir and Principle Viola of the All City Orchestra, when she was a student at GAMP. She is now a vocal perfomance major at the venerable Eastman School of Music, at The University of Rochester, in New York. The semester break gave us an opportunity to find time for an interview.

Q: First things first. How was your first semster at Eastman?

A: My first semester studies at Eastman as a vocal performance major were the most challenging four months of my life. I’m not exactly sure how I made it through, or why I’m crazy enough to go back…but hey, musicians are crazy, and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with my life!

Between rigorous theory classes, endless hours of practice, Italian language studies, and choir rehearsal attendance, I felt mentally and physically drained. Still, every once in a while I found ways to recharge and enjoy my surroundings.

Q: Thinking back on your high school years, what stands out about All City?

A: I remember how All City gave me the little pushes and bursts of inspiration to help drive me to become the best musician I could be. All City exposed me to a world of music that has helped me create new friendships, and grow closer to old ones.

One thing that made All City unique was the compressed rehearsal time allotted before the big concert. In four months, there were just five or six rehearsals. Every student was expected to be on top of their part.

As a freshman in High School, the difficult level of music and expectations were new to me. This challenging music led me to make extra time to practice, despite all the demands from other musical activities and academics waiting for me each day. I had to learn how to use my time much more efficiently in order to meet the expectations of the orchestra, not to mention my own expectations.

Q: Do you think being an All City musician helped prepare you for college?

A: It was All City that helped me to develop time management from that early stage of my freshman high school life, right up to that last concert 4 years later. I would have been completely lost in college without this base.

Personally, I believe it is extremely important to reflect on and appreciate your experiences, and when you are constantly busy, it is easy to forget about the experiences that brought you to where you currently are.

Q: Do you have any insights to share with the current All City musicians about what you have discovered at Eastman?

A: If I had one piece of advice for anyone out there who is thinking about pursuing music, it would be to find the motivation inside yourself. Don’t do it for your teachers, or for your parents.  Do it for yourself. Because at the end of the day, you’re going to have to be the one to find the discipline to wake yourself up at the crack of dawn to prepare for a performance. You have to be the one to force yourself to practice aural skills for countless hours when all you want to do is sleep. It has to burn from inside of you, and you have to want it. You have to want it more than anything in the world, and sometimes you need to make sacrifices. But the hardest thing is, no one else can teach you what you have to discover for yourself.

Q: Now that you are a voice performance major, do you think it was worth spending so much time in the orchestra?

A: Even though I am at Eastman studying voice not viola, what I gained from playing viola in All City helped me form deeper understanding of my voice as an instrument. Throughout the first semester, I noticed the many similarities between the two fields. At Eastman, students are expected to come to their lessons with a full musical and lyrical understanding of their assigned music. Lessons are a time to work with the professor on technique, artistry, and emotion, just as a conductor works with the orchestra. I soon realized that singing, like a bow stoke, it is all about the breath. You need to prepare the right amount of breath just as you need to use the right amount of pressure and length with the bow. While practicing breath control, I often pictured myself playing the viola and thought of each phrase as one long bow stroke.

Q: Do you ever miss playing in an orchestra?

A: At least once a week between classes I climbed the steps to the balcony of Kodak Hall to listen to the Eastman Orchestras rehearse. I sat down in those squeaky red chairs and let the music transport me through my memories to a place far away. I got excited while listening to Eastman’s Symphony Orchestra play Finlandia because I played it in All City!

Sitting down and listening to the Eastman orchestras play always draws back the curtains in my mind that remember the one crucial orchestra that helped mold me into the musician I am today. Many of my friends at school laugh because at some point, every time I listen to an orchestra play, I cry. I never know in the moment if they’re tears of sadness, or tears of joy, but I do know that the trigger always comes from my unforgettable experiences of playing viola in the Philadelphia All City Orchestra. Whenever I listen, I see Don Liuzzi raise his baton, and I hear him call us “dear ones”. I see Joe Conyers enlightening smile, and the sight of rosin dust clouding my view of old friends making goofy faces. I see the wetting of reeds and the final bow lifts. All City is one of the most special and transformative programs that Philadelphia has to offer. I am so thankful for the big and small meaningful ways that the All City experience continues to help me as a developing musician and person.

And the winners are…

[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at, January 13th, 2017]

Congratulations to Hannah Silverberg, First Place Winner of this year’s All City Orchestra Concerto Competition.

Hannah will be performing a Mozart Concerto for Flute, as a featured soloist at the All City Music Festival, on the evening of March 8th, 2017, in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center. It promises to be a wonderful concert, including performances by the All City Orchestra, Concert Choir and Concert Band. Admission is free and open to the public.

Music isn’t a sport, and no one goes home in defeat after a great performance. When it comes to auditions, however, a musician can be just as competitive as any athlete in town. Even simply entering the competition is big decision, requiring dedication to musicianship, a commitment to work on your weaknesses and grow in your strengths. And it takes courage too. The competition is held at the venerated Curtis Institute of Music, where students perform on stage for a panel of judges, including members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is a rare opportunity and a great achievement.

Twenty one members of the orchestra competed for this coveted honor. That’s more than in recent years, and more of the All City musicians made the cut for the PMEA (PA Music Educators Association) District  Orchestra and District Band. We’ll find out soon who is going on to the PMEA Region ensembles, and then on to the state music festival. Stay tuned, and watch our stars shine bright!

Congratulations to all 21 members of the All City Orchestra who took part in the competition. Here are brief bios of all of this year’s performers, including some of Philadelphia’s finest young musicians:
Hannah Silverberg - Photo

HannahSilverberg is a senior at GAMP (Girard Academic Music Program). She has studied with Ilya Ovrutsky and David Cramer. Hannah’s musical honors include: POA Fellowship, PYO (Principal Flute), Settlement Music School Weinstein Advanced Woodwind Chamber Ensemble, PMEA District 12 Band, Curtis SummerFest, PIMF, Peabody Marina Piccinnini Masterclass, 1st Place (Junior Division) Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia


Runners-up (in alphabetical order):

Face picture


Rei Chiu, Violin, Masterman, Grade 12, Teacher: Lee Snyder, Settlement Music School






Akili Farrow, Violin, String Theory, Grade 11, Teacher: Jennifer Lee, Kim Fisher; PYO, Sinfonia, Marian Anderson Scholarship Award, POA Fellowship, Primavera Artist, Play On Philly





Tristan Hall, Marimba, CAPA, Grade 12,  Teachers: Wes Rast, Nicholas Hall; PMEA District 12 Band, North Ridge Music School



Nathan Kim, Cello, Masterman, Grade 11, Teacher: Gloria De Pasquale; PYO, PYAO, POA Fellowship, PMEA District 12 and Region 6 Orchestra

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order):

Gia Angelo, Viola, String Theory, Grade 12, Teacher: Daniela Pierson; PYAO, Primavera Artist

David Hiester, Bassoon, Central HS, Grade 11, Teacher: Colleen Hood; PYAO, POA Fellowship, District 12 & Region 6 Band, Temple CMSP, District 12 & Region 6 Orchestra

William Klotsas, Clarinet, CAPA, Grade 12, Teachers: Sam Caviezel, Sean Bailey; PYO,   Temple CMSP, PMEA District 12 & Region 6 Orchestra, PMEA District 12 & Region 6 Band.

Marquise Lindsey-Bradley, Clarinet, CAPA, 10th Grade; Teachers: Sean Bailey, Brian Ewing, Nanette Foley; PYAO, Temple CMSP, PMEA District 12 Band, Primavera Artist

Kynoebi Simpson-Hankins, Flute, Central HS, Grade 12, Teacher: Stephen Wilensky; Temple CMSP

Dotan Yarden, Bassoon, CAPA, Grade 12, Teacher: Mark Gigliotti; Primavera Artist, PYO, PMEA District 12 & Region 6 Band, PMEA District 12 & Region 6 Orchestra, PMEA All State Wind Ensemble

Participants of Merit (in alphabetical order):

Corinna Brueckner, Violin, GAMP, Grade 10, Teacher: Scott Wagner, Dara Morales, POA Fellowship

Megan Chui, Violin, Masterman, Grade 10, Teacher: Scott Wagner; Sinfonia, PMEA District 12 Orchestra

Rose Keenan, Violin, Central HS, Grade 12, Teacher: Adelya Shagidullina; Temple CMSP

Sophia Kelsall, String Bass, CAPA, Grade 12, Teacher: Mary Javian; PYO, Temple CMSP; PMEA District 12 & Region 6 Orchestra, Philadelphia All Star Jazz Band

Shannon Lanier, Violin, Rush, Grade 12, Teacher: Celina Velez; Temple CMSP, PIMF Soloists Ensemble, PMEA District 12 Orchestra

Waner Mei,Violin, Girls HS, Grade 10, Teacher: Xuan Yao, Sergei Nuissl; Temple CMSP, PMEA District 12 Orchestra

Brae’Lynn Norris, Cello, CAPA, Grade 12, Teacher: Gozde Tinkaz; Sinfonia, Nelly Berman School of Music, Rose Tree Pops Orchestra, Bucks County Youth Orchestra

David Ortiz, Trumpet, Central HS, Grade 10, Teacher: Jake Hernandez

Derrick Pondexter, Violin, CAPA, Grade 11, Teacher: Dara Morales; PYO, Temple CMSP, PMEA District 12 Orchestra, POA Fellowship

Sofia Rabaté, Cello, Central HS, 12th Grade, Teachers: Sydney Lee, Matthew Roberts

A Medley of Thanks

[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at, August 18th, 2015]

Notes, notes and more notes..

All City is orchestra and choral music, chamber, jazz and concert band. Any way music is written, these kids can play it, and some of them improvise too.

Here is a Medley of Thanks written by the musicians. It’s an arrangement of brief excerpts quoted from some of the thank you notes All City students wrote to the generous donors who made this trip possible. Needless to say, the words “thank you” appeared many, many times–as well as ‘Italy’ ‘pasta’ ‘pizza’ and ‘gelato’… of course.

Here are some of the other highlights:

“This tour has been life changing. We experienced the vivid and colorful culture of Italy and its people, and I learned new things that have helped me grow as a musician and a person.  This was my first year being part of the All City Orchestra and this trip has just added to the many reasons why I cannot wait to come back next year. Music and my music education are very important to me and everyone else in this orchestra, and I’m glad that it is important to you too.”

Eype John, Principal Bass Central High School, Class of 2016

Version 2


“I am more than thankful… This was such a great experience for us all… The trip meant so much to me. Still thinking of it now, I can’t believe something this great was planned and paid for, for the entire all city orchestra. This was such a blessing… This was the first time I ever performed in a concert outside, let alone in another country. Seeing so many people gather around and appreciate our music was heart filling. Being a part of this was more than pleasing and made me feel important.

“It was exciting to play the Liberty Bell March, and have the large crowd clapping along with our dramatic dynamics. We also got a chance to walk around in the cities and explore the different stores, food, clothes, and people. We got to interact with people from a different country. This trip was so much fun. I wish everyone had a chance to do this because it definitely was a life changing experience for others and myself. I’m sure.”

Aijee Evans-Hockaday, Cellist ~ Philadelphia High School of the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), Class of 2017

medley-of-thanks-3.jpg… The Italy tour was my first trip to Europe, and I can say after witnessing all the beautiful sights in Italy, it certainly won’t be my last! At our church concerts, I would always be amazed at how the walls of the church reverberated the sound so much… The trip was fantastic and a great learning experience about how music can change people’s lives… There were people at the last concert in Florence who had heard us previously and came to hear us play the same exact songs. AGAIN.

Haoxuan (Howard) Yuan , First Violin ~ Central High School, Class of 2016

The All City Orchestra brings together students from all Philadelphia public schools… People I never would have thought about after our concert in March became really good friends during the Italy trip. The trip to Italy threw individuals together,and—with practice and hard work—turned us into a single, tight knit, supportive and great sounding music-making unit.

The sightseeing was, of course, incredible, but what was so special about this trip was the experience of being part of a concert tour, like a real professional musician. This trip has convinced me to minor in music at college and to search for musical groups that I can be a part of in my new environment.

The audiences in Italy were the best – enthusiastic and responsive. They would clap, stand, and always asked for encores. The locations for our concerts were stunning… Being able to spread music to people in this way was a new and great feeling for me.

Cordelia Ilton, First Violin ~ Masterman High School, Class of 2015

“… I was able to feel what it was like to be a traveling musician, and to experience the warm energy of Italian audiences. Spending this concentrated time with the other musicians allowed me to build connections that wouldn’t have been possible during our regular All-City season. I strengthened my bonds with old friends and delightedly created new bonds with kids I never talked to before and otherwise would not have. The opportunity to play in chamber groups exposed me to a different type of performance and the fact that we played so many concerts in a short period of time enabled me to really prefect the repertoire.

“It’s hard to express how meaningful a difference you made in all of our lives… You turned music into an opportunity for anyone that was willing to put in the effort, regardless of financial status. For that I commend you… With thunderous applause and a well deserved standing ovation… Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Dotan Yarden, Principal Bassoon ~ Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), Class of 2017







This and over 40 previous posts tell the story of the All City Italy Tour 2015, from preparations to performances, from anticipation to reflections after returning home. Originally posted at:, they are all available on this blog site for you to read, comment and share.

Conductor’s Italy Journal: Epilogue

[The eleventh and final installment of Maestro Liuzzi’s journal, originally posted by Josh Yarden at, August 9th, 2015]

All City Orchestra Italy Tour 2015

by Don Liuzzi

June 29 – Flight Home from Rome
It is a very early start and the buses to the airport are QUIET….As we unload near the United departure area, I spring into leader action, to ready us for the line up /passport check/baggage check in… all goes fairly slowly yet smoothly until a bomb threat halts the process with another 40 of us yet to check in! We wait for the “threat” to pass… It’s a false alarm, and we are promised no one will miss the plane!

While waiting for the plane to board, we meet up with an alum of All City Orchestra! Lou Lanza, a retired Philadelphia Orchestra violinist, has been on a vacation to Sicily, and he is thrilled to hear of our All City tour!

Once on the plane… I relax. I am EXHAUSTED, but incredibly happy for the students, happy for the alumni who led by example so well, happy for the chaperones who worked their tails off to keep order and safety, happy for the partners and sponsors who gave their important contributions to the launch and success of the tour, so grateful to the Italian Consulate General in Philadelphia for supporting all our efforts, and happy and infinitely grateful to the dear donors who gave so much and so willingly to this great cause of expanding the vision for these students from Philadelphia… the town that became my home back in 1976 when I was becoming a senior in high school.

The musical tour of another country, an experience I never had as a high school student, was a joy to behold and partake in 38 years later. If every participant had at least one “aha” moment of wonder — musically, culturally, emotionally, spiritually… It was all so worth it.

We land on time, smoothly enough in Newark. Luggage is gathered, and we congregate outside of the customs exit area to look for our buses. We say goodbye to a few… chaperone Angela is off on a family journey for a time. Bassoonist Ed Maminski is picked up there in Newark by his family. Gabriella Ruiz’s mom drives the Enterprise van back to Philly with 8 students and alums in tow… Our buses glide down the New Jersey Turnpike, and our arrival is right on time with the tour book – 5:30PM at the Kimmel Center. We are met by lots of happy and relieved parents, and with balloons held by cheering school district flute and woodwind coach, Diane Clark. Thank you, Diane, that was special!

My dad and sister and my wife greet me (Gretchen had taken a flight that arrived in Philly a bit earlier). The Milan group would make it back on June 30th the next day, after some lost luggage… (Drats! That is the only true hitch on the trip… )

I say goodbye to Joe Conyers, who like me, took time off from the Philadelphia Orchestra to make this trip. Starting now, this All City Orchestra is his… We can’t wait to see the video that Vanessa will create from this incredible tour later this summer!