Jourdan Urbach isn’t your average 22-year-old. Not only is he an award-winning violinist, having played Carnegie Hall at the age of seven, but he has also formed several charities, created a multitude of successful businesses, and has attended some of the most prestigious schools in the country – Julliard and Yale, among others. Jourdan Urbach is a prodigy, and yes, Millennials can claim him as one of their own.
He has headlined some of the world’s most famous concert halls – Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, Le Poisson Rouge, The Meadowlands – making classical music entertaining, and encouraging the youth to expand their musical horizons. “I think classical music has never been more relevant,” he tells MiLLENNiAL. While most members of Generation Y would think that classical music is all but dead, Jourdan informs us that it is indeed making a comeback. “We’re coming full circle to an extent,” he says. With popular operas like Les Miserablés being remade into an Oscar-nominated film, the appreciation of opera and classical composition is resurfacing within this young adult generation.
Jourdan adds historical context, “From the 17th and 18th centuries all the way up until about 1887, opera was a social function.” He says the lights were usually up as the performance was happening, drinks would be served, and it would be a place where friends would catch up. Music then transitioned into a traditional concert forum, where you watch the performance and have an intermission. But now, he explains, “modern opera and classical performances offer a much more social experience…that sort of interaction really appeals to Millennials.”
While his fame may have come from the classical arena, Jourdan has “a lot of loves” in his life. One of which is technology. He has most recently launched a new app called Ocho, a video platform that allows users to easily share and comment with eight-second videos. As a unique and powerful storytelling app, Jourdan says the idea behind Ocho came about a year and a half ago (mid 2012) when he and his co-founder, Jonathan Swerdlin, realized “that no one was really taking advantage of video in the mobile space.” The two had already formed and been operating Mass Labs, a platform that builds video products, when Jourdan asked himself, “What if there was an easy way to shoot and share beautiful widescreen, high-quality eight second videos with the people you care about?” That’s when Ocho was born. The product has since been used and viewed in 52 countries.
However, similar video platforms do currently exist on the market. Most popular is Vine, a video-looping app that is predominantly used for creative illusionary snippets. And of course, Instagram, the famous photo-sharing app that opened video as a response to Vine’s popularity. But as Jourdan points out, “No one really watches the videos on Instagram.” Ocho, on the other hand, provides “full frame” videos, lets anyone add “beautiful filters designed for video” placed right on top in real time, add audio narration, and share to all major social platforms.
Jourdan Urbach, The Philanthropist
Organizational development is nothing new to Jourdan. When he was seven, he formed Children Helping Children, a non-profit that gathered young musicians to perform for charity, later adapting into Concerts for a Cure, which raised over $4.7 million before he even graduated high school. While attending Yale, Jourdan formed the International Coalition of College Philanthropists (ICCP), funneling tens of thousands of dollars into important micro-financing projects for developing countries around the world. Jourdan elaborates on the coalition’s work, “We’ve built several school rooms in India, we’ve done water projects in Western Africa, done some domestic medical work as well.” The beauty of this organization is that it is still going strong since Jourdan graduated in 2012. “You really haven’t built an organization until it can live without you,” he says of ICCP.
Approaching every business opportunity with some sort of social benefit, Jourdan is considered a social entrepreneur by industry peers. With entrepreneurship becoming a rising trend among Millennials (60 percent identify as an entrepreneur), social entrepreneurship and philanthropy is being incorporated into the business practices and demands of the generation. According to a recent report published by Deloitte, 63 percent of Millennials donate to charity, 43 percent actively volunteer, and 52 percent sign petitions.
“The difference between a social entrepreneur and a philanthropist is that there is some greater good that we are trying to act upon with a value proposition…that is what the [social entrepreneurial] movement is about,” he says. In response to his opinion of Millennials, Jourdan proudly thinks, “We are the greatest generation since the greatest generation.” He further believes that every millennial stereotype has been “misplaced, overgeneralized, and blown out of proportion.”
Exemplifying the power Millennials possess, Jourdan Urbach proves all of the negative stigmas wrong. With the world at our fingertips, it’s exciting to see the new ideas and prosperous future that lies ahead.