Rachael Young

“……a very imaginative musician of great integrity and insight”

William Pleeth

Features: Kiwi Spotlight: meet Kiwi conductor Rachael Young

Written on November 1, 2012

With a passion for Russian music-making Rachael Young has had a childhood dream to become a leader of an orchestra—not just play in one. Read on to find out more about Rachael’s path to center stage.

Can you tell us a little about your background – where does your story begin?

I began my conducting career in 2007, having been a professional cellist in, first, my native New Zealand, and then, in the UK.
For the last three years I have been under the tutelage of renowned conducting teacher Maestro Leonid Grin – Paavo Järvi’s former teacher and former assistant to Leonard Bernstein throughout the 1980s – a leading exponent of the Russian school of conducting having studied and taught at the Moscow Conservatory within the Soviet system of the 70s and 80s.

I have worked with a number of ensembles since 2007 including the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, the South Bohemian Chamber Orchestra, the Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Sinfonia and the Russian Virtuosi of Europe.
What inspired your move into the world of conducting?

As a cellist I was playing in orchestras right from the start and immediately loved the colours and drama of the orchestra. Then as I progressed and began to play more demanding works I fell completely in love with the orchestral repertoire.

You are schooled in the particular field of Russian style conducting – what made you decide on this specialization, what is attractive to you about this particular style?

I loved old German conductors like Furtwangler, Karajan and also Carlos Kleiber. When I went to the Järvi Summer Academy in 2007 and saw Neeme Järvi and his son Paavo conducting, apart from their musical personas, I was greatly impressed by their technical command of the orchestra. They both have masterful conducting techniques that are able to ‘play’ the orchestra as if it were an instrument- which of course it is- a complex and wonderful instrument. They both are trained in a ‘Russian School’ of conducting – Maestro Neeme Järvi studied with Rabinovich in St Petersburg in the room next to Ilya Musin’s class and Paavo studied with Maestro Leonid Grin a graduate of Moscow Conservatory who studied with Leo Ginsberg and Kyrill Kondrashin. He then went on to be the Associate Conductor of The Moscow Philharmonic before defecting to the west. After working with me at the master class and seeing me perform in the concerts Paavo Järvi kindly recommended me to Leonid Grin whom I began studying with.

Written by Bridgid Hawley

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