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Youth Orchestra Online During Crisis

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Performances are solace to a quarantined public

The Portland Youth Philharmonic is connecting virtually with its community during the coronavirus health crisis by conducting weekly video chats for musicians, live-streamed concerts and conversations for the public. Photo by Bev Standish/Courtesy Portland Youth Philharmonic

As concert halls across the country go dark due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portland Youth Philharmonic has made significant efforts to connect virtually with its community. The nation’s first and oldest youth orchestra has joined other orchestras to give hope and solace to a quarantined public by making an unprecedented number of online performances and educational resources available free of charge. The Portland Youth Philharmonic is now featured in the League of American Orchestras’ a new Symphony Spot website (, a one-stop hub of orchestra live-streams, videos and digital learning events from more than 100 members and friends of the League. In addition, the Portland Youth Philharmonic presents “Conversations with the Conductor,” on YouTube and Facebook. The outreach started on April 3 and will continue every Thursday at 6 p.m. for the time being,” says Musical Director David Hattner. "Each week, I create a short playlist of music without identifying the performers. I am joined by a panel of musicians, made up of fascinating people and friends that I have been fortunate to meet during my career, and we spend an hour talking about the performances. This week I will welcome some special guests to talk about PYP’s new season, and share some memories from the last one.” One of this week’s special guests is Russian composer Polina Nazaykinskaya, whose symphony will be performed by the youth orchestra in November. Other recent panelists have included David Shifrin (artistic director, Chamber Music Northwest), James Shields (principal clarinet, Oregon Symphony Orchestra), Roger Kaza (PYP alumnus 1974 and principal horn, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Victor Yampolsky, director of orchestras at Northwestern University). All episodes of Conversations with the Conductor can also be found on PYP’s blog


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