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Youth orchestra to perform in Asia

Funds needed to make the trip

Empire State Youth Orchestra Helen Ch-Pyo announces the group's summer trip to Asia.

Empire State Youth Orchestra Helen Ch-Pyo announces the group's summer trip to Asia. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Bethlehem Senior Eamonn O’Neill said he was excited to share the “global language of music” as he and other students in the Empire State Youth Orchestra prepare to travel to Asia this summer to perform.

The ESYO was invited to perform at the 2012 International Exposition in South Korea, the group announced on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at the Bethlehem Central High School. The trip will last two weeks and includes seven performances in total — two of which are in China.

“The orchestra will reach a world-wide audience and (the students will) be able to share their accomplishments and be ambassadors for the American culture,” said Executive Director Susan Brome.

At the end of June, the full 96-piece ensemble consisting of music students from throughout the Capital District will head to Beijing to share patriotic favorites during an American Independence day event. Next they will travel to Shanghai where a mix of European and American symphonies will be played.

The students will spend the most time in South Korea.

Along with performing at the International Exposition in the City of Yeosu, they will also perform at the U.S. Army’s 8th Battalion Base in Seoul, at a local hospital, and on South Korea’s Sorok Island.

Helen Ch-Pyo, ESYO’s Music Director and Conductor, said the island was once used to isolate citizens afflicted with Hansen’s disease, better known as leprosy, in the early 20th century. Some elderly patients still reside there and ESYO students were specifically asked to come perform.

“I want to go there and just for that moment let them forget what they've been through,” said Bethlehem sophomore Aria Shi. “I want to give them a moment to live in the present.”

Ch-Pyo said the first time the people of the island had heard western music was in 2010 when members of the London Philharmonic performed for them is what was described as a “transformative experience.” Only half of the orchestra will be able to perform since the Island’s hall isn’t large enough for the full ensemble.

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