Who or what inspired you to take up conducting, and make it your career?
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.
Who or what were the most important influences on your conducting?
I love German conductors like Furtwangler, Karajan and also Carlos Kleiber. I went to the Jarvi Summer Academy in 2007 and saw Neeme Jarvi 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 are both trained in a ‘Russian School’ of conducting – Maestro Neeme Jarvi 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 to the West. After working with me at the masterclass and seeing me performing in the concerts, Paavo Jarvi kindly recommended me to Leonid Grin, with whom I began studying in 2008.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Finding my way from a rather lovely but rather small town in NZ to Leonid Grin.
Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?
It was a great pleasure and privilege for me to perform with Viktoria Postnikova. We performed the Schnittke Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra together last year in London. For me she plays that work magnificently and she was the first to record the work with her husband, the legendary conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. They were both friends of Schnittke’s and his wife, and it very much felt like a kind of meeting with the composer himself. Also, Leonid Grin knew him well, so he was able to give further insights about both the work and the composer.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
It’s always a real pleasure to perform in spaces that allow the audience and the orchestra a certain intimacy, and in this sense the Royal Albert Hall is very interesting. But the acoustic of a venue is usually the most significant factor in creating something.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Whatever I am working with/performing at that moment.
Who are your favourite musicians?
For me it depends on the repertoire, but I love artists such as Maria Callas, Jacqueline du Pré, and the Russian pianist Maria Yudina for me is extraordinary.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
When I was young my mother took me to hear the Borodin String Quartet playing Beethoven in what must have been its second incarnation, I think. It gave me an early experience of what was possible when you have a great composer being performed by wonderful artists.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
To find every way to love what you do and transmit that.
What are you working on at the moment?
Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Working in a challenging and creative environment
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Rachael Young makes her Cadogan Hall debut on 23 November 2012, conducting the Russian Virtuosi of Europe in a programme of music by Schnittke, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.
Rachael Young began her conducting career in 2007, having been a professional cellist, first in her native New Zealand, and then in the UK. Rachael is trained in the Russian system of conducting, and for the last three years has been under the tutelage of renowned conducting teacher Maestro Leonid Grin – Paavo Jarvi’s former teacher and former assistant to Leonard Bernstein throughout the 1980s.
Rachael has worked with a number of ensembles, 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.
She has participated in a number of prestigious conducting masterclasses, including Neeme Jarvi’s Summer Academy in Estonia, the Celebidache Foundation Masterclass held in the Czech Republic, and ‘The London Masterclasses’ at The Royal Academy of Music, and classes with Jorma Panula.
Recent engagements include guest conducting the Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra in the Ukraine in a programme of works by Haydn and Mozart, and conducting the English Sinfonia and Lara Melda at St John’s Smith Square, London in May 2011, and with Viktoria Postnikova in September 2011. For the 2012/2013 season Rachael is embarking on a series of concerts with the Russian Virtuosi of Europe at London’s Cadogan Hall.
Rachael began her musical studies at 13 and went on to take her B.Mus at Victoria University, Wellington. A scholarship from The Boston Conservatory, Massachusetts enabled her to pursue post graduate studies in America. In 1994 Rachael came to England and, with the help of a New Zealand Arts Council grant, studied ‘cello with William Pleeth (teacher of Jaqueline du Pré) and later Moray Welsh.