Ravenscroft student Quenton Blache '19 is among the 106 outstanding young musicians from across the country selected for the sixth annual National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA). Following a comprehensive and highly competitive audition process, the members of the 2018 orchestra—ages 16-19, hailing from 28 states and Puerto Rico—have been recognized by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute as being among the finest players in the country.
Quenton, who plays cello, said he was "both excited and astonished" at learning he had been accepted.
"Getting into the National Youth Orchestra was a major shock," he said. "I know how competitive it is to get in, and I know other talented musicians who didn't get into NYO in prior years. My mom was actually the one who pushed me to audition. I remember I was so busy right before the audition deadline and had only a few days to practice the excerpts."
But Pamela Kelly, director of string ensembles at Ravenscroft, said she was not at all surprised to hear the news.
"In my opinion, Quenton is one of the most talented young musicians in our country at this time," she said. "His selection for the National Youth Orchestra 2018 Asia Tour reflects his superior level of musicianship and reinforces his musical accolades on the local and statewide level during this past year — and his participation will certainly connect him with some of the finest professionals in the music business!"
In July, NYO-USA will travel to Asia for a tour of some of the continent's music capitals, including performances in Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Daejeon, South Korea. As part of their intensive three-week New York training residency in preparation for their tour, the musicians will take part in a free, side-by-side rehearsal and performance with musicians from the New York City area on July 7. They have also been invited to perform chamber music at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts on July 15. NYO-USA then will take the Carnegie Hall stage for its annual concert on July 19, to be heard worldwide via the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast and digital series.
"It will be by first time in Asia, and I'm really looking forward to it," Quenton said of the summer tour. "Now I'll be able to put my five years of learning Mandarin at school to good use!"
Quenton's other musical accomplishments this year include his selection as principal cellist for Triangle Youth Orchestra (in August 2017), as third chair for the North Carolina Honors All-State Orchestra (in November 2017), as principal cellist for the North Carolina Eastern Regional All-State Symphony Orchestra (in February 2018), and as a member of the 2018-19 North Carolina Chamber Music Institute - WCPE Radio Quartet (April 2018), which includes sponsorship by and air time on a classical radio station that streams worldwide.