From the Top at Carnegie Hall

Expand/Collapse From the Top at Carnegie Hall


Meet America's most extraordinary young musicians aged 8 to 18, and witness the excitement of their debut performances at Carnegie Hall! Based on the popular NPR program and hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O'Riley, From the Top at Carnegie Hall is a production of WGBH Boston, From the Top, and Don Mischer Productions in partnership with Carnegie Hall.

  • The Young People's Chorus of New York City

    The Young People's Chorus was founded by conductor Francisco Nuñez to celebrate the diversity and musical richness of his hometown, New York City. In this performance video from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, listen to a performance of Panta Rhei (Greek for "all things are in flux") by another New Yorker, composer Jim Papoulis. Many of the musical elements—a driving rhythm, syncopation, atonality, and surprising percussion—contribute to the sense of change and movement.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Found Sound: Joshua Jones

    In this From the Top at Carnegie Hall gallery, watch two video segments about 16-year-old Joshua Jones.

    In the performance video segment, Jones plays "Rhythm Song" on the marimba. Listen for the different rhythms in the piece.

    In the profile video segment, visit Jones at home in Chicago where he describes his love for percussion and the marimba. Whether he's accompanying the gospel choir in his church or playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Percussion Scholarship Group, Joshua hears rhythms all around him.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Mad Hot Tango: Caeli Smith

    In the performance video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, violinist Caeli Smith plays "Bordel 1900" from Astor Piazzolla's L'histoire du tango ("The History of the Tango"), accompanied by pianist Christopher O'Riley. Originally written for flute and guitar, this version was arranged for violin and piano by Tim Ribchester. Listen for rhythmic patterns that are repeated throughout the song and imagine how dancers would tango to the piece.

    In the profile video segment, Caeli Smith and Christopher O'Riley work with Pablo Ziegler, a pianist who collaborated with Piazzolla for many years and carries on his musical legacy.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Marimba Beat: Jingchen Sun

    In the performance video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, 17-year-old percussionist Jingchen Sun plays a marimba, a percussion instrument with a fascinating history. The piece she plays, "Ultimatum I," is by German composer and percussionist Nebojsa Zivkovic.

    In the profile video segment, Jingchen tells how she came to study at the Juilliard School in New York and why the marimba is important to her. She also describes the sacrifice that her father made so that she could own her own instrument and have more practice time outside of school.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Gypsy Airs: Anna JiEun Lee

    In the performance video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, Anna JiEun Lee plays a virtuosic piece for violin by Pablo de Sarasate called Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs), accompanied by pianist Christopher O'Riley. Listen for elements that are quick and dance-like, and others that are slow and mournful, as well as harmonies reminiscent of folk music. The music of the gypsies of Eastern Europe was the inspiration for the piece.

    In the profile video segment, Anna describes why music is so important to her and how she began studying the violin. She also talks about her family and what her friends think of her passion for music (they support it) and of classical music in general (they hate it).

    Grades: 5-12
  • Exploring Excellence: Kimani Griffin

    In this performance video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, 17-year-old guitarist Kimani Griffin of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, plays a lovely movement from “Aquarelle” by Sérgio Assad. Listen for the pensive and calm qualities of the music, and imagine the concentration that is required to play with such expression.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Listening with Your Eyes: Matthew Lipman

    In the performance video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, violist Matthew Lipman performs "La Campanella" from the Second Violin Concerto by Niccolo Paganini, accompanied by pianist Christopher O'Riley. Listen as Matt uses a variety of techniques for making different sounds on the viola. Can you hear double-stops, bowing, and plucking (pizzicato)?

    In the profile video segment, we see Matt at his home outside Chicago. Though his viola lessons are a two-hour drive from where he lives, his family is dedicated to getting him there. Matt also likes to practice his viola in the bathroom, where he can hear and see himself play.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Musical Journey: Eliodoro Vallecillo

    In this video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, Eliodoro Vallecillo, a talented young musician who plays in several genres, talks about how playing the French horn helped him grieve the death of his older brother. He describes how, with the support of his family, he went to live with his music teacher so that he could attend a school that offered a good music education. Watch Eliodoro also performing the Norteño music of his Mexican-American culture for fun with friends.

    Grades: 5-12
  • One String, Many Sounds: Jonah Ellsworth

    In this performance video from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, cellist and volleyball player Jonah Ellsworth from Cambridge, Massachusetts, accompanied by host Christopher O'Riley, performs Variations on One String on a Theme of Rossini, by Niccolo Paganini. Watch as Jonah plays the entire song on one string, producing a wide variety of sounds.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Innovation through Experimentation: Kiyoe Wellington

    In this performance video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, fifteen-year-old double bassist Kiyoe Wellington plays a haunting piece by French composer François Rabbath on her grandfather's double bass, accompanied by pianist Christopher O'Riley. Listen for the low, sonorous tones that convey great depth of feeling.

    Grades: 5-12

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