A Report from U.S.A. (WCO 10th Anniversary)
U.S.A. ⁄ The World Civic Orchestra
“Music is a moral law.
It gives a soul to the universe wings to the musical flight to the imagination.
A charm to gaiety and life to everything.
It is the essence of order and leads to all that is just and beautiful.”
The mission of the World Civic Orchestra is to use music as a means to
bridge the world’s differences. The WCO believes that music can help the world understand and appreciate the differences that too often lead to conflict because its essence is not bound by culture, race or religion; rather it is a universal language that touches the human soul.
The World Civic Orchestra’s mission is to fill the cultural, religious, political and racial differences of the world through music. We embarked on this mission with our inaugural concert at Carnegie Hall in June 2010. Over 200 members that included orchestra players and choir singers from 18 countries filled the stage of Carnegie Hall with the wondrous sound of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Members came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from humble community players to volunteers from the esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra and the Daedalus Quartet, as well as students from the prestigious Juilliard School.
This was not simply a testament to the legendary sounds of Beethoven, but a celebration of the power of music. Indeed, music can bring people together.
In September 2011, the second concert took place at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City. The concert was presented as a tribute to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami disasters that hit Japan in March of the same year. The orchestra presented the world premiere of the “Elegy for Taki,” a song composed and directed by the WCO’s music director, Vincent Koh. The piece is based on “The Moon Over the Ruined Castle,” a Japanese poem written over a century ago. It depicted the deep sorrow for the warriors who fell during the revolutionary war in Japan who had tried to overthrow 300 years of isolation. At the time, one of the fiercest battles took place near the epicenter of the earthquake in northeastern Japan, which today is also the site of the crippled nuclear power plant.
The third concert took place in June 2013 as a part of the project titled “Ring of a Thousand Souls and Sounds,” conceived by Japanese violin maker Muneyuki Nakazawa. The concert featured a violin Mr. Nakazawa had constructed out of the debris left from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The violin was performed during a piece called a “Lark Ascending,” symbolizing the spirit of those who survived and are trying to rebuild following the tragic disasters. WCO was immensely honored to be a part of this project and collaboration.
The 2014 concert took us overseas for the first time. We presented concerts in Taipei, Taiwan and Saga, Japan, partially sponsored by the Taipei Business Group and Saga City International Association. It was the first time, the WCO embarked on spreading the group’s mission internationally. This was especially poignant, as it was during a time marked with rising global tensions and the desire of WCO to expand our friendships in Asia. Various musical players from Taipei and Saga City joined, culminating in over 90 players performing on stage at each concert.
The 5th Anniversary Concert brought the WCO back to New York City at Alice Tully Hall in September 2015 with 82 members representing 17 countries. The program featured everything from Jazz to Dvorak’s Cello Concerto to Brahm’s Symphony No. 3.
In 2017, the WCO traveled overseas for a second time – this time in Prague, Czech Republic. It was an exciting moment for the 80 players representing 11 countries to perform at the historic Dvorak Hall in front of a sold-out audience. The program featured a world premiere piece by Czech composer Peter Smekal, Bulgarian Folk Music, Dvorak’s Violin Concerto and the Sibelius Symphony No. 1. This concert was once again evidence that there are no boundaries between people due to the great power of music.
On July 1, 2018 concert was held in New York City at Alice Tully Hall. We welcomed members from Kenya and Argentina and it was the first time 5 continents were represented on stage. The program included de Falla’s El Amor Brujo with live flamenco dance, Debussy’s Dances for Harp and String Orchestra and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.
The 2019 concert was held again in New York City on June 9 with 78 members from 15 countries at Alice Tully Hall. This program included Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Wagner’s Excerpts from Twilight of Gods.
To celebrate WCO’s 10th Anniversary and following the heels of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the WCO was set to perform in Kyoto Japan in September 2020. Unfortunately, the concert was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the uncertain nature of the world, at this time, it is difficult to plan for the next concert. Ever resilient, the WCO created a video to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Although we could not gather together for a live performance, music will continue to connect us all through any hardships.