Great performers belong to the world. Their talent on stage brings joy and hope to audiences, their inspiration awakens dreams and aspirations in the hearts of young people, and the music they make helps ordinary people transcend day-to-day struggles to a place of deeper meaning.
Among the most respected vocalists of all time, German soprano Hildegard Behrens (1937-2009) serves as the inspiration for the Global Leaders Program. Behrens was an artist as at home on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera and the Salzburg Festival as she was in civic centers, remote theaters, and regional festivals where she worked to ensure that all communities have access to great art. The Wallstreet Journal wrote of Behrens in her iconic role of Brunhilde: “you could wait a lifetime for singing as stirring and beautiful as this.” This is the power of music and the potential of musicians to change lives.
In this spirit, The Hildegard Behrens Foundation is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Behrens in our own time by helping emerging musicians of the highest caliber pursue artistic excellence, while growing as citizen musicians, developing a passion for working with young people and the less fortunate, and cultivating a foundation in the tools of community building through music. In the footsteps of its namesake, The Hildegard Behrens Foundation strives to empower emerging artists and deserving communities to achieve a brighter future through the vehicle of music performance and education.
The Foundation has served as Lead Financial Partner of the Global Leaders Program (GLP) since the program’s founding in 2012. The Foundation’s support enables five students annually to participate on scholarship in the GLP, and provides the framework for four distinguished Global Leaders graduates each year to receive the prestigious HBF Global Humanitarian Entrepreneur Award in memory of Behrens.






YOA IS A WORLD-CLASS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA of gifted young musicians, ages 18 to 30, representing 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere. YOA’s mission is to empower young musical leaders to transform lives across the Americas and beyond. YOA brings renowned artists— from Yo-Yo Ma to Valery Gergiev, from Plácido Domingo to Philip Glass— into the lives of young musicians, and diverse audiences.
FREE AND OPEN AUDITIONS are held annually via YouTube to ensure that any deserving and eligible musician can apply. Following adjudication by prestigious faculty, all musicians participate on full scholarship to achieve the greatest equality and diversity.
THE SEASON CENTERPIECE is a July – August Residence and Concert Tour held each year in different regions of the world. Musicians, Faculty, Conductors, and Guest Artists gather for a 2-week Residence of daily full orchestra and sectional rehearsals to prepare diverse and challenging repertoire to take on a month-long Tour.
YOA HAS PERFORMED in settings that range from the most prestigious concert halls of Europe, China, and the Americas to outdoor venues not often associated with symphonic music. YOA has reached millions through live performances, television and radio broadcasts, CD recordings, print media, and documentary films.
THE GLOBAL LEADERS PROGRAM is a nine month professional training course in Community Leadership, Teaching Artistry, and Social Entrepreneurship offered annually to a group of exceptional musicians and aspiring changemakers.
THE IMPACT OF YOA stretches far and wide. Participants return to their native countries to share experiences and gained knowledge with their communities. YOA connects musicians to institutions of higher learning and professional job opportunities. YOA has served as the model for music education programs in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, the United States, and Uruguay.


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“The Global Leaders Program radically transformed my perception of the impact that music can achieve.”

Manuel Figueroa, Double Bass, Chile (Class of 2013)
Founder – Chamber Music Festival of Chile