"It definitely gave me more confidence," the 17-year-old double-bass player said with a smile as he recounted going into the Eastman audition.
Each summer, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute brings together a collection of "120 of the brightest young players from across the country" to form the youth ensemble. This year, the group will convene at the end of June for a two-week residency in Washington, D.C., followed by a month-long, global tour across Europe to some of the "great music capitals of the world."
Following the two-week residency that includes a performance at the Kennedy Center, the orchestra will travel to Moscow, St. Petersburg and London for performances with famed maestro Valery Gergiev and renowned violinist Joshua Bell.
The news of being selected came as a surprise to the senior after an extensive video and live audition, supplying officials at Carnegie Hall with a brief biography, short essay, and two recommendations. Coming from a small area in central Pennsylvania, Burg said, at first, he doubted his chances of being chosen.
"Most of the other kids came from music academies or were musical prodigies, so it's really overwhelming and exciting," he said about his acceptance, while adding: "I'm not really nervous -- just really excited."
Having come up through the Williamsport school system, Burg always has played in the orchestra, and said that he has "matured as a musician here."
"(The district) helped build that foundation for the player I am today," he said.
The honors student is the son of Michael Burg and Debra
Portzline. According to his mother, his
family "couldn't be more proud ... for working so hard to achieve this
"It's an exciting opportunity to represent his country and his community, and we're very grateful to Carnegie Hall for making it happen," Portzline said. "We also have to give a lot of credit to Williamsport's fantastic music program, and especially to Matt's string teacher, Mr. (Matt) Radspinner. The district has opened doors for many music students over the years, and we're so glad that Matt is one of them."
Radspinner described Burg as leader with natural talent and was not at all surprised by Burg's acceptance into the National Youth Orchestra, as his "unparalleled effort" and innate abilities allowed the senior to reach his full potential.
"Matt is showing students in our music program that you can start your instrument in third grade at one of our elementary schools and achieve great things," Radspinner added. "You do not have to be a child prodigy. If you work hard, listen to the advice of your teachers and have great parental support, you can achieve. The other students have a high level respect for Matt. That kind of attitude will get him far in life."
"Matthew Burg is a great ambassador for our district and music program," said Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Kelley. "It is great to see that his talent and dedication to music have been rewarded. We are 'Millionaire Proud' of him!"
Head Principal Michael Reed describes Matt as a "hardworking, talented role model."
"We could not be more proud of him for his accomplishment," Reed said. "His relentless effort and wide range of talents bring out the best in so many of our students."
With aspirations to teach music at a university, become a professional level bassist and play in a professional symphony, Burg is considering attending Manhattan School of Music, the Peabody Institute, the New England Conservatory or Eastman after he graduates this spring.
selected to play in the National Youth Orchestra, Burg said he's learned to
"never doubt yourself." For someone who practices his craft for three hours a
day, he said: "Be the best player you can be -- sometimes, (the hard work) pays
Photo by: Bob Barrett.
(info from Greg L. Hayes
Director of the WASD Education Foundation & Public Relations)