Watch CBS News

New York Youth Symphony makes Grammy history, becomes first youth orchestra to win Best Orchestral Performance

New York Youth Symphony makes Grammy history
New York Youth Symphony makes Grammy history 03:35

NEW YORK -- The New York Youth Symphony made history Sunday night as the first youth orchestra to ever win a Grammy, in the category of "Best Orchestral Performance."

CBS2's Jessica Moore caught up with two of the symphony's stars to talk about their historic achievement.

"There was an email sent out about being submitted to the Grammys, and I remember reading that and being like, um, OK, that's cool?" said 22-year-old Kennedy Plains, who plays the bassoon.

"Cool" quickly turned into surreal when the youth symphony, whose members range from 12-22 years old learned it was being celebrated among some of the most renowned symphonic greats.

"It's really such an honor, especially as such young musicians, to be considered among some of the best orchestras in the world, I think. It's really amazing," said 19-year-old Noelia Carrasco, who plays the cello.

"It's really empowering to know I can be part of something that can be considered somewhat on a similar playing field to the Berlin Philharmonic or L.A. Philharmonic," Plains said.

READ MORE: New York Youth Symphony's debut album nominated for Grammy Awards' Best Orchestral Performance

They made the album during the height of the pandemic, which pushed the young musicians beyond the brink of what they thought possible.

"One of the pieces we're playing is called 'Umoja' by Valerie Coleman. Umoja means unity, and I can't think of a better piece to bring us together during this time, even though we have to play separated," music director Michael Repper said. "Putting together the project, the intention originally was never to go for the Grammys. In 2020, when everything shut down, we wanted to provide great educational experience for our kids. The album turned out amazing and it was produced by one of the great classical music producers, Judy Sherman, and we were recommended to submit it."

The album features pieces by a diverse group of composers, which means a lot to these young virtuosos.

"I always thought growing up that people who looked like me in the 19th and 20th centuries just weren't part of the classical composition sphere, so I loved learning about Florence Price and her works, including the piano concerto which we recorded. And having that previous mindset being proved wrong while playing a piece composed by someone who looks like me for the first time," Plains said.

"To me, the power of kids is limitless. Young people, not just young musicians but young people, can do anything that they put their minds to when they feel empowered and when they have the opportunity and the resources to go there," Repper said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.