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Is this America’s youngest concertmaster?

May 26, 2017 by norman lebrecht

12 comments.


The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra today appointed William Shaub as its new concertmaster.

William is 24.

Does any big-city US orchestra have a younger leader?

Born in 1992 in Canton, Ohio, William Shaub was a recipient of the Louis Persinger Scholarship as a student at the Juilliard School. He was a student of Cho-Liang Lin, Emilio Llinas, Stephen Clapp, and studied chamber music with Sylvia Rosenberg. He plays a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin, made in 1865.


Comments (12)

  1. MacroV says:

    At the moment, probably not, because they tend to age. I believe Jonathan Crow became CM in Montreal at 25, which at the time made him the youngest CM in North America.

    1. Emil says:

      Andrew Wan got the job at 24 in 2008 (http://www.scena.org/lsm/sm17-9/sm17-9_wan_en.html); the article says Crow was “younger” when he got the job. This article says Crow got the job at 23 (https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/music/2014/11/18/jonathan_crow_stands_tall_as_tso_concertmaster.html).

      The OSM clearly has a thing for young concertmasters (well, and Richard Roberts, although he seems to be in a semi-retirement since several years).

  2. Robert Holmén says:

    Nathan Olson became “co-concertmaster” of the Dallas Symphony at 24 in 2011

    http://www.dallasobserver.com/arts/100-dallas-creatives-no-62-virtuosic-violinist-nathan-olson-7097177

  3. anne karraj says:

    Jaap van Zweden became concertmaster at 18 years under Bernard Haitink after having won the Oskar Back violin competition !!!
    Once, Leonard Bernstein let him conduct the RCO wanting to listen to the sound in the hall. After the rehearsal, he told Jaap van Zweden that he should eventually consider to become a conductor. Years of training with a famous conductor abroad and without anybody knowing, he became the conductor we know now !!

  4. herrera says:

    JvZ has said, in retrospect, he was too young to be concertmaster, because a concertmaster is above all a leader, and at 18, he said he just didn’t have the life experience to play that role.

    Please, can someone explain what exactly does a concertmaster do? (Besides playing the solos and telling the first violins how to bow?) For instance, to my surprise, most union reps, or player rep, or the most outspoken member of the orchestra willing to stand up to management and the conductor is NOT the concertmaster. So, who’s really the “leader” of an orchestra?

    Thanks for any insights.

    1. M2N2K says:

      Issues of labor vs management are not really within ConcertMaster’s specific responsibilities, and therefore CM has no better chance of being the orchestra’s “leader” in those areas than any other orchestra member. Artistically however, a good CM does quite a lot actually. As an undisputed leader of the orchestra’s largest section that often plays the “leading role” in much of orchestral music, CM by the strength and individuality of his/her artistic personality and way of playing naturally influences the playing of all other string sections and to a certain extent of the rest of the orchestra too. Depending on the conductor’s knowledge of string playing and his/her desire to dictate instrumental details, CM is often the main translator of the conductor’s wishes into terms that are understandable and specific for string players. Similarly, CM is often the person who can and does relate to the conductor some of the artistic questions and concerns that the orchestra members might have, simply because it is much easier and effective for the conductor to communicate and deal on a regular basis with one person than it would be with a hundred or more. Conversely, and exactly because of this unique role, CM is probably the most vulnerable position in the orchestra. When a new principal conductor arrives, that maestro often wants to get rid of the incumbent CM in order to bring in the one whom he/she would prefer to have in that chair, due to the issues related to compatibility of their personal and artistic personalities.

      1. M2N2K says:

        Sorry for saying “personal … personalities”, but I am sure that you understand what I meant.

      2. herrera says:

        thanks, very interesting

  5. doublebassist says:

    Where do you draw the line for class of orchestra? Plenty of other part-time regional orchestras like Knoxville draw their concertmasters from graduate schools within commuting distance. As mentioned above, both Nathan Olson and Eric Gratz won their positions with more competitive ICSOM orchestras at similar or younger ages. I suppose I just take issue with the headline… in any case, congratulations are due to Mr. Shaub.

    1. Todd Y says:

      Knoxville is not part-time, it’s full time, and they do a 35-40 week season. No idea what you’re talking about. Go look at the KSO salaries, it’s on par with san antonio I can assure you

  6. Robert Eshbach says:

    Not USA, but Walter Barylli was concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic at 17.


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