The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
A gateway to recognition for young musiciansLooking at Young Concert Artists in today’s music world
A gateway to recognition for young musiciansLooking at Young Concert Artists in today’s music world
Let me ask one different question. How do you manage in raising funds for the activities of YCA?

W: Good question! I think the key to success in fundraising is the interest of individuals. Individuals can contribute 50 dollars a year, or many hundreds or thousands, if they love music and love the idea of supporting an exciting young artist. Those are our most loyal supporters. They will come every year to the auditions see who wins and come to hear their debuts in the Young Concert Artists Series in New York and Washington. Our Board of Directors in Washington as well as in New York, bring their friends to us, and that’s really the biggest means of support. There are the foundations, of course. However, the funds of foundations in these times are decreasing. Some established sources of support are even planning to “spend down and to close.
 In the States all the arts organizations are cutting costs every way they can. We are very small to begin with, so we don’t want to cut staff, because if we do, we just won’t be able to do what we are doing now. But we are trying to cut our expenses, and trying to find new supporters. What the arts and music give people is as needed as ever, even more so, because it’s such an enjoyment. If you can hear extraordinary music-making, it is so wonderful for the soul. So the need is there, for the musicians and for music-lovers to be able to hear them. We are always trying to find more people who feel that way and who will help us make that happen.

H: From the beginning YCA has been a charity to help young artists. Every year individuals support our organization. They give money to have things happen here. It takes a lot of work, and you have to do what you consider best to help artists. Fundraising is just to make helping the artists possible. We don’t want to spend all of our time raising money, because there would be no time to do our work for the artists.

It seems that YCA has a strong sense of mission and a philosophy for supporting young, emerging musicians.

W: As I said, the most important thing for us is to choose people who have something extraordinary about them. They have to have virtuoso technique, they have to be inspired musicians, and they have to have charisma that they communicate through their music. Our philosophy is that if we help the right artists, what we do for them blossoms, and they will move forward. Because the more they are heard, the more will happen for them, and the more they will be able to do.
 Because of the way YCA started and the way we have developed, many competitions in US now don’t just give prize money as they used to. Many competitions now are giving the winners two years of concert engagements. There are also many young artists programs that didn’t exist before. People are much more aware of what young musicians need to help them get started. I think this is because of what Young Concert Artists has done.

H: We were among the very first organization to do these things for young artists – you might say that many other organizations copied us. And we have existed only to help young artists, long before other much older institutions, such as the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, which are over one hundred years old, created programs to help young musicians.
 Another thing we did that was new, was to create a program for young composers, beginning fifteen years ago. This is an area where there basically no support or opportunities for young composers, especially to receive management assistance and help in more extensive ways. Some places may give them commissions or organize competitions, but that is all. So the sensational composers we have chosen have been greatly helped and are considered the best of the young generation, and tend to stay with us for quite a while – even up to ten years!
 We create a special panel every two years, to listen to the music and see the scores of young composers. The new composer chosen is then commissioned by YCA to write two pieces for artists on the YCA roster. And just bringing the two together often leads to commissions for more pieces and opportunities to perform them. It is great when an artist and a composer of the same age can work together.

W: This is what YCA always does, and makes things happen. Yes, “YCA makes things happen!”

So you are going to celebrate YCA’s 50th anniversary in the 2010-11 season. Do you have any plans for that?

W: Actually right now we are just beginning to think about the anniversary. Things are starting to happen, organic things as Mark said. For example, the Tokyo String Quartet made their debut in our 10th season. So YCA’s 50th anniversary is the Quartet’s 40th anniversary. Kazuhide Isomura, the violist, called me and said that to celebrate their anniversary they were going to play the program they played in their debut with in the Young Concert Artists Series! So when they play in NY, we will connect their concert with our anniversary. We are thinking of having many events, not only in New York, but hopefully in other places also, because our artists are everywhere.
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