Columbians Win a Grammy

An album of music by Black women composers recorded during the pandemic is honored.

Eve Glasberg
February 08, 2023

Six Columbians are (or were) part of the New York Youth Symphony, which won the 2023 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance on February 5: Emma Braunberger (BC/MSM'25), Kelsey Chin (BC'22, SIPA'23), Yael Cohen (CC'21), Deborah Ro (BC'21), Matthew Sidler (CC'22), and Joshua Wang (CC'26) 

The orchestra is a musical program for young musicians between the ages of 12 and 22. The Grammy was awarded for its untitled debut album, which was created during the pandemic and consists of works by Black women composers. When the orchestra was unable to play one of its regular Carnegie Hall concerts because of COVID, it made the recording instead.

After George Floyd’s murder and the social justice protests in 2020, the orchestra decided to rehearse and record works by Jessie Montgomery and Valerie Coleman, both contemporary composers, and Florence Price, who, in 1933, became the first Black woman to have her music played by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony performed her Symphony in E Minor.

“To be a part of the recording of the album during the pandemic was something special,” said Wang, who will graduate from Columbia College in 2026. “Music will forever be a part of my life, and I am grateful for my time being a member of the New York Youth Symphony.”

“I’m still so shocked that we won a Grammy,” added Chin, a 2022 Barnard graduate who is now getting a masters degree in Urban/Social Policy at Columbia SIPA. “To receive such a lifetime achievement at this age is stunning. We made history—we’re the youngest orchestra to win this award.”