Credit Suisse Very Young Composers (VYC) was developed by Jon Deak to answer the question, "what is children's music?" Working with Mr. Deak and Philharmonic Teaching Artists, public school children with limited musical background compose music for Philharmonic musicians to play – often for the full Orchestra. Students make every compositional decision and write every note, with Teaching Artists serving as mentors and scribes, but not editing or "arranging." VYC demonstrates children's innate creativity, and provides a glimpse of the future of live music of all genres.
VYC has grown since 1995 to include a number of ongoing initiatives:
After-school workshops through the Philharmonic's School Partnership Program involve 72 fifth-graders, whose chamber works are performed by professionals, with the child composers joining in as performers when possible, each Spring.
School Day Concerts feature performances of fully orchestrated pieces, selected from the prior Spring's premieres.
The "Composers' Bridge" works with graduates of the VYC, now in middle school, who are working toward independence and preparing for formal study of composition.
VYC programs around the United States – in Vail, CO; in Denver, Stevens Point, WI; Minneapolis – are developing ongoing VYC programs with their own Teaching Artists trained by the Philharmonic.
Projects and programs abroad – in Shanghai, Tokyo, Caracas, Seoul, Northern Spain, Helsinki – have demonstrated that children's creativity knows no borders. VYC introduces radical new ideas into differing educational cultures, which are developing their own approaches. Venezuela's El Sistema offers a particularly vast and fertile field for the enrichment of children's lives, and of the symphonic and concert repertoire in general. Our work there has now entered its second year.
In the above video, the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Roberto Minczuk, performs the works of PS 165 Students. Mark Dichter's documentary highlights the process by which these students created this groundbreaking orchestral music. This is a concise introduction illustrating the concepts and behind the Very Young Composers. Film by Mark Dichter, April 2003.
A handbook entitled "The Very Young Composer - a child composes for the orchestra: a guide for educators" is available as of April, 2011 for perusal and may be obtained by contacting .