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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!”

“I always knew that I wanted to be a professional musician — largely due to the Young People’s Concerts. I wanted to 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 1986 while still at Juilliard. Named Associate Principal in 1991. Made solo debut with the Philharmonic in 1991 with the world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths: Music for Two Solo Viols and Symphony Orchestra, commissioned for me and Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps. Most recent recording: Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet with Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Pamela Frank, and Edgar Meyer (Sony) 


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. Also, an old recording my parents gave me of a Vivaldi violin concerto. I was five and couldn’t read music yet, so I listened to the record over and over until I figured out how to play it by ear.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A MUSICIAN? I always knew that — largely due to the YPC’s — I wanted to be in the New York Philharmonic. I started violin at age five, but in eighth grade became very interested in medicine. I considered quitting music altogether. It was suggested to me that I try viola — they were short of violists in Juilliard’s pre-college division, where I was studying. I fell in love and never looked back . . .well, almost never!

WHO WERE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES? Bernstein’s YPCs were my first musical influences. Technique I learned 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 our former music director, Maestro Masur.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? Sitting with [Principal Viola] Cynthia Phelps. She’s an outstanding colleague and an even better friend.

WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY AS ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL? When Cindy’s not there I lead the section and play any solos.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Sweeney Todd

WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER RIGHT NOW? Klezmer music, Broadway shows, and movie sound-tracks. Fortunately, my kids have similarly strange taste in music. We all listen together.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? I garden with my husband, Jack; quilt; bake; and spend time with my kids — Brian, Michael, and Emma.
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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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