Youth Orchestra of the Americas (Arlington, VA)


Young musicians dressed in black pose standing with their instruments in a stage

Ten musicians in Youth Orchestra of the Americas from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States, who performed at the National Gallery of Art to honor the exhibition Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya on March 30, 2004. Photo by Ed Berger Photography, Inc.

The Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) in Arlington, Virginia is a multicultural, world-class symphony orchestra of 110 gifted young musicians from the countries of the Western Hemisphere, led by artistic advisor Plácido Domingo. The YOA provides a unique opportunity for young musicians to rehearse and perform under leading conductors and distinguished musicians assembled from throughout the Americas.

In FY 2004, the YOA received an NEA Creativity grant of $27,000 to perform as part of the opening ceremony of the National Gallery of Art's exhibition The Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya. The YOA provided authentic musical examples reflecting the history and culture of the artworks presented. The concert included two works by Carlos Chávez that were re-imaginings of the music of Mayan and Aztec cultures. The audience for the National Gallery of Art's opening celebration on March 30, 2004 numbered more than 400, including Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of Mexico Marta de Fox, and other dignitaries.

In addition, the YOA led workshops and demonstrations at two local schools, Francis Scott Key Elementary School/Escuela Key in Arlington and the Oyster Bilingual Elementary School in Washington, DC. Because members of the YOA are bilingual - including representatives from Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, and the U.S. - their visits to bilingual schools were even more effective. YOA musicians offered two performances and gave music lessons and demonstrations, speaking in both Spanish and English, to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)