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How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

Turn on the TV.

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And practice, of course, per the old joke. But when you’re trying to get to the big stage on 57th Street, it also helps to know someone at PBS. Specifically, it helps to know Gerald Slavet, the executive producer of From the Top, a new TV series showcasing the country’s best young musicians. Airing since 1998 on pubic radio (in New York, it runs on WQXR on Saturdays at 7 p.m.), the show is this week expanding to the small screen, on PBS. Each episode features three young musicians and culminates with a solo (or duet) performance on Carnegie’s main stage. Plus the production values are uncommonly high given the subject matter, most likely because Super Bowl halftime director Don Mischer is in the booth. In the first episode’s interview segment, 17-year-old trumpeter Conrad Jones, from Sayville, Long Island, admits to hating classical music, with a particular disdain for the goofy look of an oboe. (Christopher O’Riley, the low-key host, then produces pictures of Paris Hilton and Tyra Banks wielding the despised double reed.) Ten-year-old Clark Pang confesses that it was seeing Yo-Yo Ma on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that first inspired him to pick up the cello, and 13-year pianist Leeza Ali says her daddy caters to her every wish, to which O’Riley suggests a change in her father’s medication. “We’ll ask what’s the biggest fight you ever got into with your brother,” says Slavet. “We try to present kids as kids, not talking heads.”

Premieres on WLIW on April 8 at 4:30 p.m. and WNET on April 13 at 10:30 p.m.


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