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Meet The Conductor - Jonathan Yates

How long have you been with NYS?

I have been with NYS since 2010, and have loved the entire experience!

When did you start playing music?

I started playing piano when I was 6.

Did you have a music teacher that stood out and had an influence on you?

My piano teacher growing up had the most profound influence on me. I would go to her apartment nearly every day after school. She had studied with the great Rudolf Serkin from the time she was 12-- so from a young age I was exposed to the finest music that she would play for me on one of her two concert grands-- late Schubert Sonatas, the 24 Chopin Preludes, etc... She was like a second mother to me. While I don't always think of life in terms of "meant to be", I can not imagine what my life would have been like without her generosity, her remarkable spirit, her supreme musicianship. 


Did you always want to be a conductor/music educator? 

I had my first opportunity when my parents bought me an auction item similar to the one we have at the Norwalk Youth Symphony-- be a conductor for a day!-- at the Chicago Youth Symphony when I was 18. I immediately loved it, and basically never stopped.

If you weren't a conductor, what career would you want to try?

It's hard to imagine not being a musician, but I feel very strongly about the environment and the unconscionable and possibly irreversible harm we as a society are inflicting on it. That's a battle I want to be involved in more actively.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that most people don't know.

I used to have a LOT of curly hair. (See picture!)

Could you share a favorite NYS memory?

That's a tough one, but I'd have to go with performing Bartok Concerto for Orchestra with Principal Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. That piece is so challenging-- really, PO had no right to play it as well as they did!-- but they knocked it out of the park. Seeing the students' faces after having played that well on one of the great world stages-- that's a memory I'll treasure for the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to NYS students or to a student who would like to audition for NYS?

If music is an important part of your life, just come! The environment at NYS is so warm and supportive-- we're interested in helping everyone realize their full musical potential-- and in the process, make great friends, and create great performances. 

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