An Orchestra of Little Hands and Big Dreams | NY Times

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United Palace Youth Orchestra - NY Times

A rehearsal for a children’s concert on Saturday at the United Palace Theater in Manhattan. The orchestra, which includes children as young as 5, embraces El Sistema, a music and character-building program. (Photo: Devin Yalkin | NY Times)

Paul Kirby waved his baton at the group of musicians gathered in the cavernous United Palace Theater in Manhattan on a recent Saturday. Sweat cascaded down his brow as the string orchestra played in front of him.

“Stop, stop, stop! Shorter and more crisp,” Mr. Kirby said.

He tapped the baton against a music stand and took a deep breath as the violins, cellos and violas played Handel’s “Hallelujah” Chorus.

“There you go!,” Mr. Kirby, 68, said, waltzing in place. “Be triumphant. Absolute. You can make people feel a certain way — that’s the power of a string orchestra.”

It was a rigorous three-hour rehearsal, considering that some of the musicians were 5 years old.

They are all members of youth orchestras that expose children from disadvantaged backgrounds to classical music. Experienced musicians teach them to play a variety of stringed instruments.

For most of these children, private lessons and musical instruments are things their families cannot afford.

Read more: An Orchestra of Little Hands and Big Dreams – NYTimes.com.

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