The Western Balkans Youth Orchestra, founded in August 2019, had planned to go operational on 1 March 2020. During its first working phase, the WBYO was to be a string orchestra, composed of 25 professional young musicians from the 6 non-EU Western Balkan countries* (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia). After five days of rehearsals, under the mentorship of four eminent professors for each of the individual instruments and conductor Desar Sulejmani, the orchestra was to board its bus and embark on a concert tour, with a performance planned in each capital of these six countries*.
WBYO was on the launch pad, everything was ready to go, and then – 3 days before the start – the first working phase and concert tour had to be called off due to the dramatic development of the COVID-19-pandemia. Of course, this was a big disappointment to the many people involved in the project.
The orchestra refused to accept the limitations of travel and joint music-making as a reason to rest. In autumn 2020, WBYO started the project “Building Musical Bridges 2020 – ESMA and WBYO go virtual”, a cooperation with the sister project European Summer Music Academy. Building Musical Bridges consisted of virtual master classes for violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, flute, piano and singing and resulted in the production of a number of video recordings now available on the Youtube channels of ESMA and WBYO. For WBYO, the first recording marked a milestone: It was the first joint musical exercise of the young musicians across the Western Balkans borders, and at the same time it was its first distributed recording and assembly of the instruments for a joint production – a substantial technical challenge.
After the first attempt to convene fell victim to the pandemia in spring 2020, WBYO management successively considered alternative dates in autumn 2020, then May/June 2021, then July 2021 – and had to annul them all due to the slow improvement of the pandemia situation. Now, it is planned to have the first “real” working phase and concert tour in Octobre 2021 (08.-17.10.2021), the time period in 2021 which seems to offer the highest probability to facilitate the plan.
As the development of the pandemia continuously brings uncertainties into the planning and at the same time the capabilities of local administrations to render support are expected to be tighter than ever, the management intends to reduce the complexity of this new attempt to the lowest possible level which will still allow to achieve the key objective: letting the young musicians convene to make music together and to share their enthusiasm with the public by giving a minimum number of concerts. Thus, the originally planned 1.300 km concert tour through the six involved WB countries* will this time be limited to 3-4 concerts in close-by cities of North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. And there will be a “plan B” of again virtual operation for the case that even in Octobre a “real” getting together proves impossible. In spring 2021, WBYO management is elaborating the project and funding on this basis. As soon as further details are worked out they will be available on this website.
Ideas for 2022 include a working phase and concerts in the Euregio of Aachen/Germany and Maastricht/The Netherlands in cooperation with local Rotary Clubs and for the summer an opera project covering all 6 involved Western Balkans countries*.
First WBYO recordings are online!
21.12.2020: Corona could not stop us! See and hear the first appearances of the WBYO! Virtual recordings end months of silence.
June 2021: WBYO meets Rotary Orchestra Germany (ROD)
20.10.2020: WBYO art director Desar Sulejmani will conduct and six young WBYO musicians play at ROD charity concert in Aachen and Maastricht.
Postponed due to COVID-19...
Fighting Corona: A Taste of WBYO -
Online Performances on YouTube
We Want to Hear You! Musicians Invited to Record for WBYO Fanpage
03.06.2020: WBYO management invited each musician of the first phase to record a small piece for the Facebook fanpage of WBYO.
26.05.2020: WBYO on Facebook!
Successful Charity Concert for WBYO in Aachen/Germany
Aachen, 15.02.2020: Five alumni and three tutors of the ESMA European Summer Music Academy gave a charity concert in Aachen/Germany for the benefit of the WBYO project, organized by the Rotary Clubs Aachen-Land, Aachen-Charlemagne and Aachen-Nordkreis.
WBYO Inauguration Concert on March 7 in Tirana (postponed)
Tirana, 28.01.2020: The first concert tour of WBYO starts in the beautiful auditorium of the Cultural Center of the new Orthodox Church in Tirana. The concert will be hosted by the Rotary Club Tirana. Reception after performance sponsored by German Embassy.
*) In the WBYO context, the designation is without prejudice about positions on status.