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Now hear this: Boise Philharmonic's new executive director talks about his roots

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© Brooke Burton
Boise Philharmonic
Tim Young, Executive Director of the Boise Philharmonic

In his first conversation as the Boise Philharmonic’s new executive director, Tim Young likened his role as to when he was a professional musician – playing the viola in New Zealand.

“Viola players have a special part in the orchestra. They’re really not very prominent. They sit there and work to support all parts of the ensemble,” said Young. “That’s really how I see my role as executive director.”

On the same day as the Philharmonic made the big announcement, Young visits with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about his native homeland of New Zealand, the next generation of great musicians, and how pop concerts featuring the melodies of Gershwin and Sondheim are “entry points for somebody who hasn’t grown up with Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler.”

“It is my job to choreograph, to support all that work, and I believe that is why I am here.”

Read the full transcription below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice. The Boise Philharmonic is Idaho's oldest performing arts organization. Indeed, it is a bridge from our collective musical history to today, where we are renewing our love for that in-person relationship with the performing arts. Tim Young is here. He is the new Executive Director of the Boise Phil. His path has included leadership in orchestras in Texas, Alabama, and Nevada and now Idaho. Mr. Young, good morning.

TIM YOUNG: Good morning, George. Pleasure to be here.

PRENTICE: I am always interested in substantial change at the top of an org chart at such a high-profile organization. So, I'm curious about what the hiring committee told you, what they needed, and what it is that that you bring now to the Philharmonic.

YOUNG: That is a great question. I believe that my primary approach to the work really stems from my life as a musician. It's in my biography that I was a professional violist for some time. And, you know, Viola players have a very special part in the orchestra. They're really not very prominent. They sit there and work to support all parts of the ensemble, and that's really how I see my role as executive director. There's wonderful, wonderful work being done by the board, wonderful work being done by the orchestra and music director Eric Garcia. Terrific work being done by the youth orchestras and by the Master Chorale and of course, wonderful supporters in this community. It is my job to choreograph, to support all that work, and I believe that is why I am here.

PRENTICE: I love the fact that you brought up the youth orchestra. So, the Philharmonic has always done a pretty fabulous job of bringing orchestral music to school kids. Could you talk a little bit about that and about building audiences of the future?

YOUNG: Oh, my gosh, yes. I'm sitting in my office and upstairs as we speak, the youth orchestra is in rehearsal, and it is just so cool to see. This is our younger ensemble. And so, for some kids, this is their very first time sitting in a large orchestra and having that experience of contributing to the whole and being part of something that is just feels so enormous. And so, it's such an exciting thing to do that for the first time. And so, I'm very, very happy that that's where the Boise Phil has already embarked on. But as you mentioned, we do many, many programs in the schools. I think we'll see somewhere around 15,000 students this year. Wow. And we live in a world where there's many, many, many distractions. Students have so many channels at their disposal at any time. So, it's very, very important that they hear an orchestra, that they have that live music experience. And the Boise Phil is here to do that.

PRENTICE: You grew up in New Zealand?

YOUNG: I did indeed.

PRENTICE: Can you talk a little bit about that? Do you get back often for those who have not traveled there? It seems exotic for many of us.

YOUNG: It is very beautiful. I was just there in June. And it's strange because the seasons are reversed. It's in the southern hemisphere. So, I left 100 degrees and went into 30 degrees with rain and short, short days. You know, it's interesting to go back and visit again. I left there almost 30 years ago, and it certainly changed. When I grew up, I think it was much more of an English colony, kind of like Australia, Canada, South Africa. The English influence was very strong still. Right now, I would say it's really developing its own sense of identity, which is really cool to see. They're bringing in a lot of emphasis on the Indigenous culture, the Maori people, as a part of the language, trying to really forge their own. And I know it's fun to see the news from New Zealand. They certainly are a very progressive country.

PRENTICE: Can we talk for a moment about, well, for lack of a better phrase, pop music and the Philharmonic's role in showcasing. Well, my goodness, Gershwin and Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim. Philharmonic orchestras are now the home of that music.

YOUNG: Yes, absolutely. As I talked to the hiring committee, I think it is up to us to provide entry points for somebody who has not grown up with Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler. Sondheim and Gershwin provide a way to enjoy the music that is immediately enjoyable, approachable, understandable. And so, it is just up to us to provide as many, many, many entry points as possible. To so that everybody in the community can enjoy the orchestra.

PRENTICE: I understand you like to sail. There's only a couple of places in Idaho where you might be able to do that. But I also see that you like to camp and hike, and I'm guessing you are quickly learning that you are in one of the great destinations on the planet for camping and hiking. Idaho is the place.

YOUNG: Yeah, I'm really excited. My wife and I love to camp, and we were looking at some footage of the Sawtooth Mountains that looks incredible. And then all the way up in the state, it's phenomenal the amount of wilderness that here is here.

PRENTICE: Tim Young is a lifelong lover, advocate and champion of orchestras, and he also happens to be the new executive director of the Boise Philharmonic and Boise State Public Radio. Our classical station, to be sure, has an enviable relationship with the Philharmonic, and I'd be remiss if I did not say that the Boise Philharmonic is an underwriter for Boise State Public Radio. For that, we say thank you. And for this morning, we say congratulations and thank you for giving us some time, Mr. Young.

YOUNG: George, thanks so much. It's been a real pleasure.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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