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Musicians of the NY Philharmonic

Rebecca Young

associate principal viola

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 also be seen leading the viola section of the All-Star Orchestra, a popular televised educational series about classical music.

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, a series of intimate chamber music concerts where she tap-dances, plays drums, rides a scooter around the stage, and even sings Gilbert & Sullivan in order to engage her young audience members. Her philosophy is less to educate than, as she puts it, “to make sure the audiences have so much fun that they want to come back!”

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 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. 

Most recently, Ms. Young has become known as the “Viola Mom” on TikTok (ry_violamom). On this platform, she introduces non-musicians and musicians alike to the joys of music. Using humor and her generous and talented colleagues, 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 teaches at the Shanghai Orchestral Academy and joined the faculty of Rutgers University in September, 2021.