Nathan Artley, long-time Director of Orchestras at Pine Forest High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, lead an orchestra tour to New York City, April 22-26, 2016.  Among the groups highlights were a clinic with Helen Cha-Pyo, Music Director and Conductor of the Empire State Youth Orchestras, at Historic Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan, and a performance at the United Nations Building as part of the National Festival of the States concert series.

Here is a brief review of the tour by Mr. Artley:

My highlight was the fact that the tour was seamless and smooth as silk.  Everything about our tour had been planned to the “Nth degree.”  MCI has produced another excellent tour for our orchestra. 


Helen Cha-Pyo

Helen Cha-Pyo

Ms. Cha-Pyo was excellent.  Within five minutes, she had my orchestra in the palm of her hands.  She is VERY personable and even more knowledgeable.  I like the mannerisms/performance strategies she imparted on my students.  I also like her ideals and philosophies of music and music performance.  I can whole-heartedly recommend Ms. Cha-Pyo to any orchestras visiting NYC.


The performance at the United Nations Building was a great experience.  The entire purpose of our tour was to perform and the UN Building was a coup.  We had a large responsive audience and the chaperones and students were excited. 


Pete Chavis, our motorcoach driver, is wonderful! I cannot say enough good things about Pete!! He is a HUGE component of our tours.  He is great with our students and he knows NYC.  Once Pete took over, the bus situation was great.  Pete knew how to use the handicapped lift, he was very pleasant with the students and chaperones, and he knows NYC better than any charter bus driver with which I have been associated.


Joanne Kleidon, our tour manager, WAS our NYC Tour.  Between Pete and Joanne, they were the nucleus of our tour.  I have told Donna Gomez [MCI staff], our MCI tours of NYC would not be complete without Joanne and Pete.  They work symbiotically.  Joanne is great with our students and chaperones, she knows NYC and she is fun!  I cannot say enough good things about Joanne!!!

Midtown Manhattan skyline on a Clear Blue Day

The accommodations met MCI’s standards and they were excellent.  Almost every chaperone and students commented on how nice the hotel is.  I can whole-heartedly recommend the Hilton Woodcliff Lake to future groups.


This has to be (at least) my 5th NYC Tour with MCI and our group saw things on this tour that we haven’t seen before:  We walked the Brooklyn Bridge, the High Rail, river boat cruise, etc.  Both the chaperones and students had a great time during our sightseeing.


As always, MCI is the top of the pyramid when it comes to performance tours.  I have never had a bad experience when I was working with an MCI team member.  If I ever had any issues, one phone call took care of it.  I have been talking up MCI for the past 18 years, and I will keep spreading the word about MCI.

Nathan Artley, Orchestra Director
Pine Forest High School
Fayetteville, North Carolina