John Clayton Jazz

Link Up: The Orchestra Swings – 11,000+ New York City-Area Students Participate in Interactive Concerts at Carnegie Hall from May 21–23 as Part of Link Up Music Education Program

Thousands of School Children Perform from their Seats As Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser and Sean Jones Lead the Link Up Orchestra and Big Band in Program Hosted by Teen Broadway Actress Emiko Dunn

Repertoire Featured on the Concert Includes Works by Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Florence Price, John Clayton, Wynton Marsalis, and More

Link Up Reaches 300,000+ Students and Teachers Worldwide Through More Than 100 Partner Orchestras

(NEW YORK, NY; April 22, 2024)—For 39 seasons, Carnegie Hall’s Link Up music education program for students in grades 3–5 has facilitated deeper connections between the concert hall and the classroom through an instrument-focused curriculum that culminates with students performing with a professional orchestra from their seats, often marking the first time many students will have set foot in a concert hall. The more than 11,000 New York City-area students who have taken part in this program in their classroom over the last school year will travel to Carnegie Hall to take part in one of six concerts in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage on Tuesday, May 21; Wednesday, May 22; and Thursday, May 23 at 10:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

The theme of this year’s concerts is Link Up: The Orchestra Swings—an interactive program developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute that explores the elements of rhythm, form, improvisation, and communication that make music swing. Throughout the school year, children study these musical tenets, learn about the orchestra and big band, and create music together in their classrooms. At the end of the year, they put their knowledge into practice by playing from their seats during the culminating performances of The Orchestra Swings at Carnegie Hall.

The concert program, hosted by 15-year-old Broadway actress Emiko Dunn, features Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser conducting the Link Up Orchestra—which includes current fellows and alums of Ensemble Connect and Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA and NYO2—and trumpeter Sean Jones leading the Link Up Big Band—made up of alums from Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz—as well as other dynamic performers and music educators, all of whom reflect the vibrant makeup of New York City. The program also welcomes elementary school students from New Bridges Elementary, PS 14 Q, PS 971 K, and Success Academy Flatbush to perform onstage as part of the concert. The Orchestra Swings features works by Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Florence Price, Thomas Cabaniss, Wynton Marsalis, and a new work for big band and orchestra by John Clayton (commissioned by Carnegie Hall). To experience Link Up in action, view this video.

The longest-running education program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI), Link Up provides an opportunity for its participants to join the orchestra by teaching them to sing and play an instrument in the classroom. In addition to students in New York, young people across the country and around the world are also taking part in Link Up. Partner orchestras can utilize any of the program materials created by Carnegie Hall—including teacher guides, student materials, concert scripts, and concert visuals—for free as they work with schools in their own communities. Link Up welcomes 11 new partners this year from across the United States. From May 22–23, the Link Up National Convening at Carnegie Hall will bring together prospective and new partners. A number of partners will be featured in a panel discussion on May 23, prior to attending the live Link Up concerts.

The Link Up programs are now comprised of four distinctive, year-long curricula: The Orchestra Moves (exploring musical movement and dance, The Orchestra Sings (exploring melody), The Orchestra Rocks (exploring rhythm, pulse, and groove), and The Orchestra Swings (exploring elements of swing and jazz). Link Up materials are designed for use in classrooms throughout the school year, helping students prepare to take part in a culminating concert by their local orchestra at which they sing, play the recorder, or play the violin with the orchestra from their seats.

Link Up curricula and program materials are now being shared at no cost with more than 100 orchestras across the country from Alaska to Florida, as well as in CanadaChinaJapanKenyaDominican RepublicNew Zealand, and Spain, serving more than 300,000 students and teachers around the world. As expansion continues, the program’s materials have been translated into several languages, including Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese.

The following national Link Up partners are new this season:

Florida Intergenerational Orchestra of America (FL)
Idaho Falls Symphony (ID)
Itasca Orchestra & Strings Program (MN)
Johnstown Symphony Orchestra (PA)
Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra (OK)
Minot Symphony Orchestra (ND)
Nashville Symphony (TN)
Oakland Symphony (CA)
Olympia Symphony Orchestra (WA)
Mansfield Symphony (OH)
Volta Music Foundation (FL)

For more information about Link Up, and to see a full list of national and international Link Up partners during the 2023–2024 season, please click here

Program Information
Tuesday, May 21 at 10:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Wednesday, May 22 at 10:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Thursday, May 23 at 10:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage

Link Up Orchestra
Link Up Big Band
Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Conductor
Sean Jones, Trumpeter and Band Leader
Emiko Dunn, Host

Georgia Heers, Vocals
Shanna Lesniak-Whitney, Vocals
Milton Suggs, Vocals
Tali Rubinstein, Recorder

Tristan Ianiero, Dancer
Gabrielle Rembert, Dancer

Students from New Bridges Elementary, PS 14 Q, PS 971 K, and Success Academy Flatbush
Honor Blue Savage, Understudy

Melissa Rae Mahon, Stage Director
Habib Azar, Video Director
Dan Scully, Visuals Designer
Stacey Boggs, Lighting Designer
Q Le Costume Designer

FLORENCE PRICE “Juba” from Symphony No. 1
WYNTON MARSALIS “Midwestern Moods” from Swing Symphony
JOHN CLAYTON Recorder Mae and the Giant Swing Machine

About Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute
Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education, playing a central role in fulfilling the Hall’s mission of making great music accessible to as many people as possible. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, WMI’s programs are designed to inspire audiences of all ages, nurture tomorrow’s musical talent, and harness the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. More than 800,000 people each year engage in WMI’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall. This includes more than 155 orchestras, music presenters, and education organizations in 40 states as well as internationally in 27 countries on 6 continents. WMI’s hands-on programs tap into the creativity of audiences of all ages, inviting them to make their own music in all genres, express their viewpoints, and raise their voices. WMI shares an extensive range of online music education resources and program materials for free with teachers, families, orchestras, arts organizations, and music lovers worldwide. As a leader in music education, WMI generates new knowledge through original research, which inform Carnegie Hall’s own programs and are also available as a resource to artists, organizations, and peers.

For more information, please visit:

Lead support for Link Up is provided by Fund II Foundation.

Additional funding for Link Up is provided by Linda and Earle S. Altman, The Barker Welfare Foundation, JJR Foundation, and Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation.

Link Up in New York City schools is made possible, in part, by an endowment gift from The Irene Diamond Fund.