Violinist Esther Yoo is in high demand across the UK in 2017-18 as begins her position as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s first Artist in Residence and becomes Artist in Residence at Cambridge Corn Exchange
British audiences have followed Esther Yoo since the early days of her career, charting her spectacular progress as a BBC New Generation Artist and applauding landmark debut performances at the nation’s leading concert halls. The 23-year-old violinist, is set to broaden her UK reach in the coming season and beyond as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s first Artist in Residence. She will also succeed Alison Balsom as Artist in Residence for the Classical Series at Cambridge Corn Exchange, a position rich in creative possibilities. Yoo’s round of UK dates in 2017-18 includes a rush-hour recital at LSO St Luke’s -part of the London Symphony Orchestra’s This Is Rattle festival, concerto engagements with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and concerts in Cambridge and Liverpool with her Z.E.N. Trio.
“It’s a great honour to be the first ever Artist in Residence with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,” comments Esther Yoo. “I am delighted to have the chance to work with this wonderful international orchestra. I believe our partnership will be very exciting. It carries a responsibility for me to connect with audiences in London and elsewhere in the UK, not just to give great concerts but to reach out through activities beyond the concert hall. The RPO is committed to broadening its audience and that is a mission that we share together. I think there are many ways that we can attract new audiences, so I look forward to collaborating with the orchestra as we reach out to them.”
Esther Yoo launches her Royal Philharmonic Orchestra residency with performances of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto at Cadogan Hall in London and G Live in Guildford (Wednesday 2 & Thursday 3 May), conducted by Michał Nesterowicz. Soloist, orchestra and conductor will also explore Glazunov’s Violin Concerto at Cambridge Corn Exchange (Saturday 5 May 2018). Yoo’s future RPO Artist Residency plans include Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in London and Hull with Clemens Schuldt (September 2018), Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in Cadogan Hall with Michele Mariotti (November 2018), as well as innovative ideas for education projects.
The violinist’s residency at Cambridge Corn Exchange follows from her successful debut there in March 2016 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy. In addition to performing Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, she also collaborated then with young musicians from Cambridgeshire to give the world premiere of a work by Jay Richardson, organ scholar at Pembroke College and 2017-18 Composer in Residence at the Corn Exchange. Yoo’s term as the venue’s Artist in Residence begins on Monday 2 October when she performs a programme of works by Haydn, Brahms and Dvořák with the Z.E.N. Trio.
“Britain is a major hub for music, arts and culture,” she observes. “I’m very proud and happy to be part of that. I look forward to developing my experience with the RPO in London and around the UK and to developing projects at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. These two residencies are the highlights of my upcoming season. I want to reach as many people as possible through them. It has been fascinating to work with Cambridge Live, the truly dynamic and creative charitable trust that runs the Corn Exchange, and exciting to see what they are doing there. We’re talking about exploring mental health, for instance, which I feel is such an important topic that concerns us all. I look forward to developing a relationship with the audience in Cambridge and more widely through my work with the RPO.”
Esther Yoo’s season begins in London on Friday 22 September with a rush-hour recital at LSO St Luke’s, presented as part of This Is Rattle, a ten-day celebration to mark Sir Simon Rattle’s first season as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra. She will be joined by regular duo partner, pianist Robert Koenig, for a programme that opens with Grieg’s Sonata in C minor for violin and piano, and continues with Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending in its original version for violin and piano, Glazunov’s Grand Adagio from Raymonda, Tchaikovsky’s Waltz-Scherzo and a traditional Korean folksong.
Yoo will join the Philharmonia Orchestra in performances of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto at De Montfort Hall in Leicester and at the Royal Festival Hall in London (Wednesday 1 & Thursday 2 November). “We’ve worked on so many projects before that it now feels like I’m coming home whenever we play together. I’m looking forward to performing the Tchaikovsky with them again and to working with the German conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens for the first time.” Her UK itinerary includes the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Ulster Orchestra and Jac van Steen (Thursday 30 November & Friday 1 December), and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor Op.64 for her debut with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Sir Roger Norrington at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (Friday 8 & Saturday 9 December).
Before turning to those mighty warhorses of the concerto repertoire, Esther Yoo will spend time with pianist Zhang Zuo and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan on tour in the UK and China as the Z.E.N. Trio. They begin by performing Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 10 in E flat major Hob. XV:10, Brahms’s Piano Trio No.1 in B major Op.8 and Dvořák’s Piano Trio in E minor Op. 90 'Dumky' at Cambridge Corn Exchange and St George’s Hall Concert Room in Liverpool (2 & 3 October). The ensemble travels to China to perform Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in Shenzhen and Hangzhou (6 & 8 October) and on to Hong Kong for two performances of their Haydn, Brahms and Dvořák programme (9 & 10 October).
“Our goal is to make vibrant music and bring these great pieces to life from our perspective as young performers,” comments Yoo. “Meeting Zhang Zuo and Narek while we were part of the NGA scheme was an amazing stroke of luck. They brought us together to record for BBC Radio 3 and we soon realised that we really got along very well, both personally and musically. We now have busy careers as soloists but understand the value of chamber music and of how beneficial it is to our development as solo artists. I’ve learned so much from playing with Zee Zee and Narek. They inspire me and we learn from each other.”
Esther Yoo’s international profile has grown in recent times thanks to her critically acclaimed albums for Deutsche Grammophon: an all-Tchaikovsky recording that includes the Violin Concerto and a selection of violin works including Sérénade mélancolique, and a disc with the Sibelius and Glazunov violin concertos. Both were recorded with Maestro Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Her yellow label discography is set to grow with the release on 29 September 2017 of the Z.E.N. Trio’s debut recording. The new album couples Brahms’s First Piano Trio, a youthful work heavily revised by the composer in his maturity, and Dvořák’s 'Dumky' Trio alongside Brahms Hungarian Dance No.6 in D (arr. Louis Ries). “Although these pieces have been recorded many times before, they offer so much for a group of young musicians to explore and express,” notes Yoo. “We had a great time recording them and, I think, we were able to bring our individual natures to the music and give it a unique aspect.”