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July 2014
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David Robertson Puts Youth in Spotlight

Conductor David Robertson

Conductor David Robertson

Live from Grant Park, Monday at 6:30 pm

On Monday evening, David Robertson returns to the Chicago stage, this time with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

There is the notion that some conductors work with youth orchestras while hoping to move on to professional orchestras – not so with David Robertson. He has the big career; and for this National Youth Orchestra tour, he’s brought with him another major artist: violinist Gil Shaham.

The orchestra members, ages 16-19, compete from across the country for their seats. They train together for two weeks with principal players from major orchestras (Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Robert Chen and Principal Percussion Cynthia Yeh are among the faculty), before setting out on an eight-stop tour.

Music director of the St. Louis Symphony since 2005 and a frequent guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Robertson is an ardent advocate for putting young people together with classical music. It’s been a cornerstone of his tenure with a number of different orchestras and ensembles, including Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris and the Orchestre National de Lyon.


Rehearsal at Carnegie Hall, c. Chris Lee



A father of four, Robertson’s perspective, no doubt, is shaped in the home, but also by people who were influential in his own development. One mentor was the international conductor Pierre Boulez. Robertson reflects on the way Boulez treated him when he was a young artist.

“But of course that’s where the strength comes, is that I had really formed some core ideas about music. And so when I came into contact with his, like a marvelous Venn diagram, we saw where they overlapped and we saw where they didn’t, and it didn’t bother either of us.”

–Conductor David Robertson on working with Pierre Boulez as a young conductor

Violinist Gil Shaham, c. Luke Ratray

David Robertson leads the National Youth Orchestra and soloist Gil Shaham at the Grant Park Music Festival on Monday. WFMT’s live broadcast starts at 6:30 pm.

Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Britten: Violin Concerto
S. C. Adams: Radial Play
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

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