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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Three Jacobs School alumni make Carnegie Hall debut

Dec. 5, 2007

William Harvey

William Harvey

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- When the New York Youth Symphony opens its 45th anniversary season at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 9 at 2 p.m., it will unintentionally host a Hoosier theme. Three of the major contributors to the performance -- the conductor, Ryan McAdams; solo violinist, William Harvey; and composer, Clint Needham -- are Indiana University graduates making their Carnegie Hall debuts.

"It was a lucky accident. A sheer coincidence," said McAdams, who is in his first season as music director of the Youth Symphony's 25-year-old "First Music" program, which commissions young composers to create new pieces for each of the symphony's performances.

The coincidence was set in motion when McAdams selected Harvey to play the violin solo in the Youth Symphony's first performance.

"It was one of the easiest decisions I've ever had to make," said McAdams. "When I first heard his music, it just knocked me over. I knew as a performer he would inspire everyone in the orchestra, and he's one of the few players I know who gets people out of their seats screaming for him."

Ryan McAdams

Ryan McAdams

Although the two attended the IU Jacobs School of Music together as undergraduates between 2000 and 2004, they did not become friends until the following year, when both attended the Juilliard School.

Next, a selection committee chose only a few contest submissions among hundreds from First Music. The program has awarded nearly 100 commissions to America's best young composers, including many Jacobs School faculty members and alumni.

From the committee's recommendations, McAdams and Harvey chose Needham's submission. But because all entries are chosen anonymously, they had no idea that they were selecting an IU doctoral student's work.

"I don't know. Maybe Indiana is so engrained in our blood that we just knew the sound of a fellow Hoosier when we heard it," joked McAdams. "But it was a happy accident."

Needham, who earned his master's degree in composition from the Jacobs School, is now in his second year of working on his doctoral degree, also in composition. His original score for the Youth Symphony has already been written, and he has traveled to New York for rehearsals with McAdams, Harvey and the Symphony. And he is understandably excited to hear his composition performed in one of the world's most famous concert halls.

"It's a little intimidating, and I'm a little nervous," said Needham. "But rehearsals have sounded great, and I'm sure everything will go well."

Clint Needham

Clint Needham

McAdams and Harvey also are excited about their Carnegie Hall debuts.

"There's one quote about Carnegie Hall that I think is completely true," said McAdams. "It goes, 'There are a lot of halls that make orchestras sound better, but Carnegie is the only one that makes the music better.'

"This is the moment I've been waiting for since I was asked to take on this job," McAdams continued. "I can't wait to see the look on the orchestra members' faces when they hear how they sound at Carnegie for the first time. My guess is that they'll become twice the musicians they were in rehearsal."

David Dzubay, 1990
Keith Fitch, 1993
Stefan Freund, 2000
David Heuser, 1995
Clint Needham, 2007
P. Q. Phan, 1991
Alfonso Tenreiro, 1994
Mischa Sarché Zupko, 2000

Chamber Music
Sean Shepherd, 2006
Matthew Van Brink, 2002

Symphony Singers
Eric Guinivan, 2007