Pusch Ridge junior accepted to Carnegie program

Percussionist Campbell Stewart, a junior at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, is headed to Carnegie Hall.  (Campbell Stewart/Submitted)

Pusch Ridge Christian Academy junior Campbell Stewart was in his teacher’s assistant period when he received a text to check his email.

There, he found a note stating he was chosen for NYO2, a Carnegie Hall program with 89 young musicians who participate in an intensive summer orchestral training program.

The members of NYO2 2023 — coming from 30 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico — have been recognized by Carnegie Hall as exceptionally talented musicians who not only embody a very high level of artistry, but also come from a wide range of backgrounds including communities that have often been underserved and underrepresented in the field.

The NYO2 program begins in early July with an intensive two-week training residency at Purchase College, State University of New York, located just north of New York City.

James Ross, music director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in Virginia, returns for the 10th year as orchestra director and, for the first time, will work closely with NYO2 to prepare its 2023 program. The faculty will oversee rehearsals during the orchestra’s residency in Purchase, also working with the musicians in master classes and sectionals, in preparation for the culminating concerts in New York and the Dominican Republic.

After performing at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, July 15, the NYO2 musicians will travel to the Dominican Republic for the ensemble’s first international residency and concerts.

NYO2 musicians will give two concerts presented by Fundación Sinfonía and take part in cross-cultural youth exchange activities, serving as musical ambassadors for their country. Conductor Joseph Young, who previously was NYO2’s resident conductor for five years, leads the ensemble with violinist Jennifer Koh joining as guest soloist. The program includes Bernstein’s “Three Dance Episodes” from “On the Town;” Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto,” with Koh as soloist; and selections from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

“We have to fly up to New York and we have two weeks to prepare,” Stewart said. “We’re playing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and a piece by Leonard Bernstein; stuff that is very percussion heavy. That’s going to be a lot of fun. We get to play the violin concerto with the soloist, which is a really cool opportunity.”

Sharing the news

The Oro Valley teen plays timpani and percussion. When he read the invitation email, he ran back to his band director’s room and shared the good news.

That band director, Carrie Hester, was just as thrilled.

“Campbell is the type of student you might get lucky to have once in your career,” Hester said.

“He is a monster player, but my favorite thing about him is that he just wants to invite other people into the music that he’s making. He loves making music with his friends and does so without an ego that could be easily justified. He is quick to point out the improvement and hard work of others around him, celebrating their achievements. Campbell is thoughtful in his craft, an absolutely excellent player, quick to make you laugh, and just an all-around delightful human. I am loving being a part of his musical journey and can’t wait to see what he will do in the future.”

The son of Adam and Raegan Stewart, he has been into music since he was 6, so nearly all his life. He frequently listens to jazz, especially vibraphone players like Lionel Hampton, Cal Tjder and Bill Evans. Stewart’s father played percussion in his high school marching band but didn’t tell his son until he started playing.

“That was just a coincidence,” said Stewart, who has an older sister, Kaelin.

His resume is extensive. He performs with the Tucson Reparatory and Tucson Philharmonic Youth orchestras and serves as a music librarian for the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy band program.

His activities and awards include first place in the Civic Orchestra Concerto Competition; Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition gold medal; and All-State Band.

For 10 years, he has been under the tutelage of Tucson Symphony Orchestra percussionist Trevor Barroero.

His dream is to attend the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he can continue learning the Cleveland style of music.

“I would describe it as simple,” he said. “A lot of other players, the visuals get in the way of making good music. I think I would rather hear really good sound than watch it.”

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