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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

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×

Purchase 3 or more eligible concerts & save.

About Create Your Own Series:

Pick three (or more) concerts and and enjoy exclusive Subscriber Benefits including unlimited free ticket exchange. Ideal for concertgoers who want the ultimate in flexibility and the benefits of being a subscriber.

Subscriber Benefits:

  • Free, easy ticket exchange (available online or by phone)
  • Save on subscription concerts all year long
  • Priority notice on special events

How it Works:

  1. Look for the Create Your Own Series icon CYO eligible icon next to a concert and add it to your cart.
  2. Simply follow the directions in the shopping cart and enter promo code CREATE3 at check out.
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