Rebecca Young, Viola

The New York Philharmonic

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Biography
Rebecca Young

Rebecca Young joined the New York Philharmonic in 1986 as its youngest member. In 1991 she won the position of Associate Principal Viola. Two months later she was named principal viola of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After spending the 1992–93 season in Boston and two summers at Tanglewood, she ultimately decided to return to her family in New York, resuming her Associate Principal position with the Philharmonic in September 1994. She can currently be seen leading the viola section of the All-Star Orchestra, a popular televised educational series about classical music.

An avid chamber musician, Ms. Young has performed with many renowned groups, including the Boston Chamber Music Society, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, New York Philharmonic Ensembles, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She can be heard in a recording of Schubert’s Trout Quintet with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Pamela Frank, and bass player Edgar Meyer on the Sony Classical label.

In the spring of 1999 Ms. Young joined Philharmonic Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps in the World Premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths: Music for Two Solo Violas and Symphony Orchestra with the Philharmonic. The work was commissioned for them by Tomoko Masur, wife of Philharmonic Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur and herself a former violist. The two performed it at Avery Fisher Hall, in Washington, D.C., and again during the Orchestra’s subsequent tour of the Canary Islands, Spain, and Portugal, as well as the Europe 2000 Tour, and again in April 2011, at Avery Fisher Hall. Ms. Young is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

Ms. Young was first introduced to music at the age of two when her parents took her to the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts led by Leonard Bernstein. Today, she is the host of the Philharmonic’s popular Very Young Peoples Concerts, intimate chamber music concerts where she has tap-danced, played drums, ridden a scooter around the stage, and even sung Gilbert & Sullivan. Her philosophy is less to educate than, as she puts it, “to make the audiences have so much fun they want to come back!”

“My earliest musical memory is attending a Bernstein Young People’s Concert. Not only did I always know I would be a musician — I always knew I would be in the New York Philharmonic.”

Q&A with Rebecca Young

THE FACTS: Born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Graduate of The Juilliard School. At the Philharmonic: Joined in 1986 while still at Juilliard. Named Associate Principal in 1991; solo debut in 1999 in the World Premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths, commissioned for her and Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: Attending a Bernstein Young People’s Concert (YPC) at age two and a half, straining to see around TV cameras that were taping the show. I used to roll up the programs, put one under my chin, and use the other as a bow. Not only did I always know I would be a musician — except for a short flirtation with the idea of medical school — I always knew I would be in the New York Philharmonic.

WHO WERE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES? I learned technique on violin, but became aware of the “heart and soul” of music as a violist at Tanglewood from coaches and fellow students. I also learned a great deal about music as poetry, not just notes, from conductors including Leonard Bernstein and Kurt Masur.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT HOSTING THE VERY YOUNG PEOPLE’S CONCERTS? I get to juggle, sing, tap dance, and ride around on a scooter. Like the audience, I’m a 3 to 6-year-old at heart, so I can identify with the kids. My approach is less to educate than to entertain and get them to love the music so much that they want to come back and, hopefully, become our future audience.

WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY AS ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL? The serious answer is that I lead the section and play any solos when the principal is not there. However, my personal goal is to try to get Cynthia Phelps to laugh as often as possible. (Yes, even when we’re playing. Don’t tell the maestro!) We’re good colleagues, but even better friends.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Sweeney Todd, My Fair Lady … anything Broadway. In my next life I’ll be on Broadway and have my own dressing room with my name on a star on the door!

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO READ? Anything by David McCullough, and the classics

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? The advice I give myself is to gather those rosebuds.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? Most of the time I have outside of work is spent with my 13-year-old daughter (my youngest and the only child still living at home). We love to hike with our two black labs, cook, bake, quilt, garden, dance, and laugh. We laugh a lot!

As of April 2017

Upcoming 2018-2019 Performances
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Location: (Directions)
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21

October, 2018 Sunday

Philharmonic Ensembles at Merkin Hall
More

3:00 PM Concert

Philharmonic Ensembles at Merkin Hall

Program To Include
Rossini Duo for Cello and Double Bass
Dvořák Terzetto in C major for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 74
Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence
Artists
Eric Bartlett Cello
Hannah Choi Violin
David J. Grossman Bass
Blake Hinson Bass
Lisa Kim Violin
Michelle Kim Violin
Maria Kitsopoulos Cello
Su Hyun Park Violin
...

27

October, 2018 Saturday

Saturday Matinee: Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4
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2:00 PM Concert

Saturday Matinee: Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4

CYO
Program To Include
Mendelssohn String Quintet No. 2
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4
Artists
Tugan Sokhiev Conductor
Michelle Kim Violin
Qianqian Li Violin
Rebecca Young Viola
Cong Wu Viola
Eileen Moon-Myers Cello

24

February, 2019 Sunday

Very Young People's Concerts: "Allegro and Adagio"
More

12:30 PM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: "Allegro and Adagio"

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic
Very Young People's Concerts: "Allegro and Adagio"
More

3:00 PM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: "Allegro and Adagio"

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

25

February, 2019 Monday

Very Young People's Concerts: "Allegro and Adagio"
More

10:30 AM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: "Allegro and Adagio"

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

31

March, 2019 Sunday

Very Young People's Concerts: “Forte and Piano”
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12:30 PM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: “Forte and Piano”

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic
Very Young People's Concerts: “Forte and Piano”
More

3:00 PM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: “Forte and Piano”

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

1

April, 2019 Monday

Very Young People's Concerts: “Forte and Piano”
More

10:30 AM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: “Forte and Piano”

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

2

June, 2019 Sunday

Very Young People's Concerts: “Treble and Bass”
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12:30 PM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: “Treble and Bass”

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic
Very Young People's Concerts: “Treble and Bass”
More

3:00 PM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: “Treble and Bass”

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

3

June, 2019 Monday

Very Young People's Concerts: “Treble and Bass”
More

10:30 AM Concert

Very Young People's Concerts: “Treble and Bass”

Program To Include
  To Be Announced
Artists
Rebecca Young Host
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic
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