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Matt Young

Matt Young headshot


Office 325

Courses Taught

Viola Orchestral Excerpts


University of Kentucky

Yale School of Music

Cleveland Institute of Music


San Francisco Symphony

Minnesota Orchestra (2005-2012)

Awards and Distinctions

Grand Prize, Fischoff Competition

McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowship

Young executed the Shostakovich with gravitas."

— Minneapolis Star-Tribune


What is your hometown?

Herndon, KY

What is your favorite recording?

The Cleveland Orchestra Szell Anthology.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Community service, fitness, food, gardening, hiking, nonprofits, political activism, and travel.

Who was your major teacher?

Robert Vernon.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

A performance should sound spontaneous as a result of meticulous preparation.

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

"Why isn't my spiccato working?"

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Charlie Castleman's Quartet Program, 1998.

What was a turning point in your career?

Being accepted into Bob Vernon's studio at CIM.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?


What is your daily practice routine?


If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Mahler, Bach, and Dohnányi.

What are your most important collaborations?

Playing chamber music with members of Berlin Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Juilliard Quartet, and playing in the San Francisco Symphony viola section and with my SFS colleagues on and offstage in the Bay Area.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Ensemble San Francisco (Debut Album, 2019) (Schumann and Dohnányi)

Minnesota Orchestra: Complete Beethoven Symphonies

Minnesota Orchestra: Complete Sibelius Symphonies

San Francisco Symphony recordings (2012-Present)

Ujjwal, N. Ravikiran, Chitravina

What is your unrealized project?

I'd like to produce a web series to aid pre-professional violists with their audition preparation.


Matt Young grew up on a farm in Kentucky, and began playing music at an early age with his family. He eventually studied at the University of Kentucky, the Yale School of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music with his mentor Robert Vernon.

Young has performed with the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Minnesota and Saint Paul orchestras, among many others. He has won the Grand Prize at the Fischoff Chamber Competition, and was the winner of a McKnight Fellowship for performing artists, as well as the Robert Vernon Prize in viola performance. In addition, Young has been featured as a soloist with the CIM Orchestra in Severance Hall, as a tenured member of the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven's Opus 74 string quartet in a subscription concert, and as acting principal and soloist in Haydn's Symphony No. 6 under Raphael Frubeck de Burgos.

A founding member of local nonprofit Ensemble SF, he's very involved with community engagement throughout the Bay Area in low arts access communities, including Raphael House in the Tenderloin, the LGBT Center on Market, Juvenile halls in SF and Felton, and the Institute on Aging in SF.

Some of the students Young has taught and coached have won positions in the orchestras of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Saint Louis, as well as many regional orchestras. He is also on the faculty of the San Francisco Academy Orchestra and frequently at the National Orchestral Institute.