A 24-year-old high school band teacher has been named the first BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow, a newly created, career-priming post that involves two major Baltimore institutions.
Joseph F. Young, who is in his third year of teaching at the D.W. Daniel High School in Central, S.C., will receive a full scholarship for two years at the Peabody Institute and the Johns Hopkins University as part of the program. He will also receive a stipend.
"Actually, I've always wanted to come to Peabody," Young said yesterday. "It's kind of strange and gratifying that I'll get to be working with both organizations."
The fellowship will involve mentoring from Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's new music director and a major force in developing the program. Gustav Meier, head of the conducting faculty at Peabody, will also work closely with Young. The project is modeled after the American Symphony Orchestra League's Conducting Fellows Program, which helps post-graduate conductors gain pre-career experience.
"The league was interested in finding a way to make that kind of fellowship sustainable and thought a good way would be to pair up a conservatory and an orchestra," said Jeremy Rothman, BSO vice president of artistic administration. "The league is providing seed money to support the pilot program for a couple of years."
Jesse Rosen, the league's executive vice president and managing director, sees the new BSO-Peabody venture "as a catalyst for additional orchestras to connect with their own higher-education partners in helping develop the 'complete conductor' on and off the podium."
Young came to Alsop's attention when he attended her master class last summer at the Cabrillo Festival she directs in California. "We kept in contact," he said. Alsop issued a statement praising Young's "innate 'feel' for the orchestra ... and understanding for orchestral sound and color that often take years to develop in a conductor."
After being spotted by BSO staffers at the ASOL's most recent fellowship auditions, Young became the leading contender for the Baltimore initiative, which is aimed at assisting conductors during "the interim period between graduating and starting a career," Rothman said, "when additional learning and mentoring needs to be done."
Starting in September, Young will become closely involved with the BSO, interacting with Alsop, musicians and staff members and learning both the business and music end of the orchestra business. He will also take various courses at Peabody and Hopkins. "A lot of the program will be tailored to him specifically," Rothman said.
Young, born in Charleston, S.C., graduated from Newberry College, where he studied trumpet. He studied conducting at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
"I've wanted to be an orchestra conductor since I was about 16, when I got to conduct a student orchestra," he said. "But I kind of fell in love with teaching."
Once back in the student mode himself in Baltimore, Young will be "sitting in on rehearsals, being an extra set of ears for Marin Alsop," he said. He is also expected to conduct some educational and community outreach concerts, and possibly lead a short work on a BSO subscription concert.
"I'm still learning about a lot of repertoire," Young said. "I'm studying some Bartok pieces now, and I'm very excited about John Adams."
Tallis Scholars at Shriver
It's always good to be reminded of our musical roots. A powerful reminder came Sunday from the Tallis Scholars, presented by the Shriver Hall Concert Series. This ensemble, founded in England in 1973, explores the riches of Renaissance choral music to extraordinary effect.
An evening with these singers is much more than a history lesson. There's something cleansing and uplifting about what they do. They have a way of making very old music speak with remarkable clarity, directness and eloquence. That's exactly what they did on Sunday. Shriver Hall's dry acoustics did not do the group any favors, and a few individual voices lacked tonal smoothness, but the performance moved nonetheless from strength to strength, molded by founding director Peter Phillips. Highlights included an intricately textured Mass by Monteverdi, refined gems by Palestrina and deeply felt works by such lesser-known composers as John Browne and Nicolas Gombert.