Seven local student musicians became ambassadors for Paducah at the Global Youth Concert in Icheon, South Korea, July 29-August 4, 2019. This international exchange program drew students from around the world to form a symphony orchestra!

Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Paducah delegation tours Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Icheon Mayor Eam Tai-joon invited Paducah to participate in the Global Youth Concert along with other UNESCO Creative Cities of Crafts & Folk Art, Al Ahsa, Saudia Arabia, Jingdezhen, China, Limoges, France and Santa Fe, USA and Icheon’s sister cities, Seto, Japan and Wuxi, China. In the invitation, Mayor Eam Tai-joon said, "Although the language and ethnicity are all different from each other, we are sure that it will serve as a meaningful time for everyone to be united under the common language called music."

The Universal Language of Music

Heath Middle School music teacher Steven Page led the local students from Paducah Tilghman High School and McCracken County HIgh School in rehearsals and preparations for the trip. Page, who also coordinates the Paducah Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Camp, was enthusiastic about the positive impacts this international opportunity would create for the students. Prior to departure, he expressed, "It's kind of cliche that music is the universal language, but we're going to experience that truth on this trip."

"To me this represents two things: I get to show off some of the talented music students right here in our city, and I get to open their minds up to seeing different cultures and how much we have in common. Saying that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience doesn't even do it justice. This will be my eleventh experience with musicians in a different country, but it's my first time to see students from different cities collaborate like this.”


Experience the 2019 Global Youth Concert from the perspective of the Paducah Delegation.

Brenden Evers

Brenden Evers, Trumpet McCracken County High School Junior

“It’s fascinating to see the sharp cultural differences between every country in the orchestra. But, through those differences you find how amazingly unique every individual is. It was so memorable to be able to sit next to people not knowing their language, but all of us still being able to communicate with each other because music is universal. Everyone there has the same love for what they do and being in a group like that is, simply put, special. Icheon is a truly beautiful city that had so much to offer and none of us will forget the amazing hospitality given to us.”

Kindle Knight

Kindle Knight, Cello Paducah Tilghman High School Junior

“Getting to play challenging music and taking in the beautiful scenery was probably one of the most exquisite things about the trip. Icheon is a beautifully cultured place, and there is room for creativity in everything there. I learned that local art is appreciated by everybody, no matter what. This opportunity was one I didn’t think I would be able to experience, and I am grateful to have been selected.”

Kate LeBuhn, Clarinet Paducah Tilghman High School Sophomore

“I’m so thankful for this opportunity and all of the amazing people I met. The most inspiring thing was how we all came together to play music even though we spoke different languages. I learned that music and the arts play an important role all around the world.”

Maya Lee

Maya Lee, Flute McCracken County High School Freshman

“I learned firsthand that music is a universal language. Even though we could not speak the same language we all understood music. There were students there from 5 different countries and our conductor spoke Korean and very little English, yet we were able to come together and perform our music. I was so proud of how our final performance came together. I was very honored to have represented our community halfway across the world. I really enjoyed learning about another culture, and it has opened my eyes to a world of new possibilities. I can only hope that myself and others can have this type of opportunity again in the future.”

Noah Tolar

Noah Tolar, Tuba McCracken County High School Freshman

“The most memorable part of the Global Youth Orchestra was just hanging out and spending time with the other kids. We learned about the different aspects of music in each country. We also learned about the culture of Icheon, Korea.”

Allison Zelenski, Cello McCracken County High School Junior

“This was a life-changing experience that I will never forget. I've never felt as connected to people than when playing in the Global Youth Orchestra. Music is a language we can all understand and it brings all cultures together.”

Steven Page Heath Middle School Music Teacher

"It wasn't what we were expecting - both musically or culturally - but it turned out to be great. The performance was almost a full house. It was a lot of music to learn in just 24 hours, and it was not the most polished performance, but the crowd just loved it. From a student-experience standpoint, I've never seen kids have the same kind of growth that these kids did. You had these kids who didn't know each other, but by the end of the week, they could communicate even more so musically."

#PaducahCreativeCity to the World

For more photos and videos, visit the Facebook page which chronicled the journey of the Paducah delgation to Icheon!

Paducah joined Icheon, a city known for ceramics, in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2013. Since then, the two Creative Cities have strengthened connections through the Network and creative collaborations like Sabores y Saberes and "Pride of Place" at Paducah School of Art & Design during a 2017 meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Crafts & Folk Art in Paducah.