artandculture Atsushia Yamada

Halfstack Highlights Ep. 40: Meet Joachim Schamberger and PONY

Saturday, April 23, 2016 Jen Lezan

Hey everyone! It’s Jen Lezan here with another episode of Halfstack Highlights! As we continue on with this season’s theme of explore, I have been on the search for interesting people with careers, life journeys and experiences that really embody that idea. This episode I was introduced to the Philharmonia Ochestra of New York – not to be confused with the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York – and the amazing work they are doing in the classical music field.

All images courtesy of Timothy Murray/Momentum Communications Group

There has been a sharp decline in the exposure of choral music to young people today. As a young kid growing up in an urban community – I was not always exposed to classical music. Yet, once I entered a choral program in grade school, I was given the opportunity to experience a diverse range of music that has forever left a mark on my heart. During highschool I was able to travel overseas on an exchange trip to Germany with my madrigal group that gave an inner city kid like me, the opportunity to see the world beyond my backyard. As an adult, I find it so important to incorporate all kinds of worldly music into the lives of my own children and it’s a bit disheartening to know that it is not as popular. Yet, organizations like the Philharmonia are looking to break the mold and change the perceptions young people have. Because they’re making classical cool again.

The organization was co-founded by by the esteemed Meastro Atsushi Yamada and David Titcomb (formerly of the Metropolitan and New York City opera) They have been focusing on getting a younger audience interested in classical music. On top of it all they’re working on doing some good through Project Hand in Hand.

Yamada was concerned with what he saw as the  social isolation of the young people of East Japan following the devastating tsunami and the resulting nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant. So, he decided to use music to organize these high school students so that they could have international support and connections. 

He along with Project Hand-in-Hand, a program which he designed, recruited the teachers, mobilized corporate resources and inspired the region's youth to invest in choral music. Five years later, the choral group has transformed into a world-class choir.

This past March the Japanese students along with a choral group from the College of New Jersey and Philharmonia of New York Professional musicians performed one of the largest concerts ever to be held in history of the Rose Theatre at Lincoln Center. Yamada and his team have been working tirelessly to find and explore new ways of communicating music with the younger generation. In order to help spark engagement, the team brought on Veteran Stage Director, video designer and opera coach: Joachim Schamberger

Joachim took some time out of his hectic schedule to talk with me about this program, how his team incorporated digital film, 3-d animation, projection mapping and lighting design that is often associated with a rock concert into a classical choral performance. Keep listening for the full interview!

I hope you enjoyed this latest episode! If you want to learn more about The Philharmonia Orchestra of New York you can check them out at: and you can learn more about Joachim at: 

Thanks for your support!
Jen Lezan 

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