Rebecca Young joined the New York Philharmonic in 1986 as its youngest female member ever. 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 with the BSO in Tanglewood, she ultimately decided to return to her family in New York, resuming her Associate Principal position with the Philharmonic in September 1994.
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 Very Young Peoples Concerts, a popular series of chamber music concerts geared towards 3-6-year-olds, where she tap dances, plays drums, rides a scooter around the stage and even sings Gilbert & Sullivan, all while exposing today’s youngest audiences to the joys of classical music in a fun, engaging way. Her philosophy is less to educate than, as she puts it, “to make the audiences have so much fun they want to come back for more!”
An avid chamber musician, Ms. Young has performed with many renowned groups, including the Boston Chamber Music Society, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, New York Philharmonic Ensembles and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She can be heard in the iconic 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.
Ms. Young has traveled worldwide with the New York Philharmonic, including a once-in-a-lifetime trip in 2008 to North Korea. In non-Covid times, she travels annually with the orchestra to Shanghai, where she teaches as well as performs with the orchestra. Highlights of her travels include Singapore, Vietnam, Russia, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil. The orchestra also performs often throughout Europe and North America.
Ms. Young has recorded many film tracks, the most recent of which include In The Heights, RESPECT and Shmigadoon. She has performed with classical artists and pop stars alike, including Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Jennifer Hudson, Audra McDonald, Seth MacFarlane, Sting, Celine Dion, and many others.
Ms. Young is known as the “Viola Mom” on TikTok (ry_violamom). On this platform, she introduces musicians and non-musicians alike to classical music using humor, often with the assistance of her generous and talented colleagues from the Philharmonic and beyond. She reaches out to her audiences and proves, once and for all, that classical music does NOT have to be stuffy and boring!
Ms. Young is a graduate of The Juilliard School. She joins the faculty of Rutgers University in September.