Cranbrook student selected for prestigious summer music program

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 15, 2024

 This summer, Cranbrook Schools junior Summer Su is participating in a selective program through Carnegie Hall.

This summer, Cranbrook Schools junior Summer Su is participating in a selective program through Carnegie Hall.

Photo provided by Cranbrook Schools


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Cranbrook Schools junior Summer Su is the only Michigan student and the only saxophonist who has been selected for the NYO2, a program through Carnegie Hall.

Carnegie Hall has three national youth ensembles: the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, or NYO-USA; NYO; and NYO Jazz.

NYO-USA started in 2013 for musicians ages 16-19. Due to the program’s success, Carnegie Hall created NYO2 as a sister orchestra for younger musicians in 2016 and NYO Jazz in 2018.

NYO2 is an intensive summer orchestral training program for high school musicians ages 14-17 are chosen across the county to participate each year. This year, 89 young musicians from 29 states were chosen to participate in this national program.

Selected students have the opportunity to participate in the program at Purchase College, State University of New York, July 20-Aug. 8.

Su has been playing the saxophone since the sixth grade. She said she likes the instrument’s versatility and the “palette of colors you can produce with it.”

She was nominated by her private saxophone teacher, Zachary Shemon. The application process required Su to prepare orchestra excerpts that the program sent to her, play a solo from her repertoire and record a video essay where she had to verbally respond to prompts.

Cranbrook Schools Coordinator of Performing Arts and Band Director Mark Hourigan has been with Cranbrook Schools for 34 years, and he said Su is one of the top five students he has taught in his career.

“She is a once-in-a-career kind of student,” Hourigan said.

On Aug. 1, NYO2 will perform at Carnegie Hall. While the saxophone is not typically included in orchestral pieces, they will be performing Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story,” of which the saxophone is an integral part.

Su said it is always special to get to play with an orchestra as a saxophonist.

“It is fun for me, but also a role that comes with responsibility,” Su said. “I want to showcase the classical side of the instrument and its capabilities.”

Following the show at Carnegie Hall, NYO2 will travel from New York to Dallas Aug. 6 to perform at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

Su said she is excited to play at Carnegie Hall and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, since she has never been to either of the venues.

The NYO2 performance marks the beginning of World Orchestra Week, which goes until Aug. 7. World Orchestra Week is a new summer concert festival that brings together international youth orchestras from five continents on the Carnegie Hall stage throughout the week.

During the first week of residency, students will have the opportunity to interact with these musicians from other countries, which Su said she is looking forward to.