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Esther Yoo: Bio

"Can the world take yet another brilliant young female violinist? Yes, if that violinist is Esther Yoo" wrote The Telegraph after the violinist's performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra in March 2016. Esther Yoo first came to international attention in 2010 when, aged 16, she became the youngest prizewinner of the 10th International Sibelius Violin Competition. In 2012 the American-Korean violinist was also one of the youngest ever prizewinners of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, and since 2014 she has been a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist.

In 2016/17, following her first BBC Proms appearance (with the BBC Philharmonic under Alpesh Chuahan), Esther debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vänskä), Charlotte Symphony (Christopher Warren-Green) and Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Karina Canellakis). She performs with the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Krakow (Charles-Olivieri Munroe) and joins the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern for concerts with Shi Yeon Sung in Germany and Korea. Chamber music appearances include her US recital debut with Robert Koenig at New York's Lincoln Center, and recitals in the UK and Spain.

Last season saw the release of her debut album by Deutsche Grammophon, of the Glazunov and Sibelius concertos recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy. She returned to the Philharmonia Orchestra at London's Royal Festival Hall as well as to the Kansai Philharmonic, and debuted with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Andrew Davis), RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Alan Buribayev), Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Osmo Vänskä), KBS Symphony (Yoel Levi) and Orchestre National de Lille (Michał Nesterowicz). She was also reinvited to South America, performing with Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia and Filarmonica de Jalisco, following her successful tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Ashkenazy the season before.

Recent chamber music highlights include her Wigmore Hall debut in 2016 and two BBC-recorded performances with the Z.E.N. Trio, consisting of fellow New Generation Artists Narek Hakhnazaryan and Zhang Zuo. She has also performed at the Seoul International Music Festival, in Bach's Double Concerto with Maxim Vengerov, the Ghent Festival of Flanders, Festival de Fénétrange, Festival du Château de Chambord (France) and Dvořák Prague Festival.

Born in the U.S. and raised in Europe, Esther began playing the violin at the age of 4 and made her concerto debut aged 8. In 2006, she was given First Prize in the Junior Section of the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition and also the European Union Award for Music Art for Youth. She is currently a student of Ana Chumachenco in the Excellence Bachelor Programme at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich and of Augustin Dumay in the Artist Diploma Programme at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Brussels. Prior to this, she worked with Zakhar Bron, Leonid Kerbel and Berent Korfker. 

Esther plays the 1704 "Prince Obolensky" Stradivarius, generously lent to her by a private collector.

One of the few artists to combine a successful career as a pianist and conductor, Russian-born Vladimir Ashkenazy inherited his musical gift from both sides of his family; his father David Ashkenazy was a professional light music pianist and his mother Evstolia (née Plotnova) was daughter of a chorus master in the Russian Orthodox church. Ashkenazy first came to prominence on the world stage in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw and as first prize-winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1956. Since then he has built an extraordinary career, not only as one of the most outstanding pianists of the 20th century, but as an artist whose creative life encompasses a vast range of activities and continues to offer inspiration to music-lovers across the world.

Conducting has formed the larger part of Ashkenazy's activities for the past 30 years. In addition to his performances with the Philharmonia in London and around the UK each season, and in countless tours with them worldwide, he has also developed landmark projects such as Prokofiev and Shostakovich Under Stalin (a project which he also took to Cologne, New York, Vienna and Moscow) and Rachmaninoff Revisited (which was also presented in Paris). Last season Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia undertook a European tour with soloists Evgeny Kissin and Vadim Repin. In September 2014, he leads the orchestra in a ground-breaking tour of Latin America with soloists Nelson Freire and Esther Yoo, including concerts in Mexico City, Lima, Bogotá, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Ashkenazy is also Music Director of the European Union Youth Orchestra, with whom he tours each year, and Conductor Laureate of both the Iceland and NHK Symphony orchestras. He has previously held posts as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2009-13), and Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director of NHK Symphony Orchestra. He maintains strong links with other major orchestras including The Cleveland Orchestra (where he was formerly Principal Guest Conductor) and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Chief Conductor and Music Director 1988-96). He regularly makes guest appearances with many other major orchestras around the world.

Ashkenazy maintains his devotion to the piano, these days mostly in the recording studio where he continues to build his extraordinarily comprehensive recording catalogue. This includes the Grammy award-winning Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues, Rautavaara's Piano Concerto No.3 (a work which he commissioned), Bach's Wohltemperierte Klavier, Rachmaninov Transcriptions and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. Spring 2013 saw the release of ‘Ashkenazy: 50 Years on Decca' - a 50-CD box-set celebrating his long-standing relationship with the label. In 2014, Decca released a milestone collection of Ashkenazy's vast catalogue of Rachmaninov's piano music, which also includes all of his recordings as a conductor of the composer's orchestral music.

Beyond his performing schedule, Vladimir Ashkenazy has also been involved in many TV projects, inspired by his passionate drive to ensure that serious music retains a platform in the mainstream media and is available to as broad an audience as possible. He has collaborated extensively with legendary documentary-maker Christopher Nupen, and has been involved in programmes such as Music After Mao (filmed in Shanghai in 1979), and Ashkenazy in Moscow, which followed his first return to Russia since leaving the USSR in the 1960s. More recently he has developed educational programmes with NHK TV including the 1999 Superteachers, working with inner-city London school children, and in 2003-4 a documentary based around his project Prokofiev and Shostakovich Under Stalin.


Widely acknowledged for its pioneering approach to the role of an orchestra in the 21st century, the Philharmonia leads the field for the quality of its playing and its innovative work with residencies, music education, audience development and the use of new technology to reach a global audience. Together with its relationships with the world's most sought-after artists, most importantly its Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia is at the heart of British musical life.

The Philharmonia performs more than 160 concerts a year, as well as recording music for films, video games and commercial audio releases. The Orchestra's home is Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall in the heart of London, where the Philharmonia has been resident since 1995 and performs 40 concerts a year. Under Esa-Pekka Salonen a series of flagship, visionary projects at Royal Festival Hall – distinctive for both their artistic scope and supporting live and digital content – have been critically acclaimed. Projects including City of Light: Paris 1900-1950 (2015), City of Dreams: Vienna 1900-1935 (2009), Bill Viola's Tristan und Isolde (2010) and Infernal Dance: Inside the World of Béla Bartók (2011) were followed in 2016 by the major, five-concert series Stravinsky: Myths & Rituals.

The Orchestra is committed to presenting the same world-class, live music-making in venues throughout the country as it does in London, especially at its UK residencies, where up to seven concerts each season are complemented by a wide-ranging education and audience development programme. The Orchestra's UK residencies are at Bedford's Corn Exchange (since 1995), De Montfort Hall in Leicester (since 1997), the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Three Choirs Festival and The Anvil in Basingstoke, where it has been Orchestra in Partnership since 2001.

A busy international touring schedule takes the Orchestra all over the world. Projects in 2016/17 include a major West Coast US tour (October 2016) and a tour to Japan and Taiwan (spring 2017), both with Esa-Pekka Salonen. Recent highlights include the 2016 Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence, where the Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen were in residence, performing two Stravinsky programmes and Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, directed by Katie Mitchell.

Central to the Philharmonia and Esa-Pekka Salonen's work in London, the UK and internationally are their digital projects, all of which are designed to communicate the thrill of the experience of a live orchestra to audiences outside the concert hall. In September 2016, in partnership with Southbank Centre, the Orchestra presents The Virtual Orchestra, a free two-week series in the public spaces of Royal Festival Hall, culminating with a specially programmed concert at the venue. The project features 360 Experience, the first major Virtual Reality presentation from a UK symphony orchestra, and giant audio-visual installation, Universe of Sound: The Planets, first premièred at the Science Museum in spring 2012.

Both Universe of Sound and its predecessor RE-RITE (2010, based on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring) toured internationally and were at the heart of a major two-year audience development and education initiative, iOrchestra (2014-15), which took place in South-West England and engaged over 120,000 people. The project also featured a pop-up interactive digital music installation, MusicLab, which used the latest technologies to create a series of hands-on musical games and interactions. The Orchestra has won four Royal Philharmonic Society awards for its digital project and audience engagement work.

The Philharmonia Orchestra was formed in 1945 by Walter Legge. It has been a self-governing orchestra since 1964 and is owned by its 80 members. During its first seven decades, the Orchestra collaborated with most of the great classical artists of the 20th century. Conductors associated with the Orchestra include Furtwängler, Richard Strauss, Toscanini, Cantelli, Karajan and Giulini. Otto Klemperer was the first of many outstanding Principal Conductors, and other great names have included Lorin Maazel (Associate Principal Conductor), Sir Charles Mackerras (Principal Guest Conductor), Riccardo Muti (Principal Conductor and Music Director), Kurt Sanderling (Conductor Emeritus) and Giuseppe Sinopoli (Music Director).

As well as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Principal Conductor since 2008, current titled conductors are Christoph von Dohnányi (formerly Principal Conductor, now Honorary Conductor for Life) and Vladimir Ashkenazy (Conductor Laureate). Also a central figure in today's Orchestra is composer and Artistic Director of the long-running Music of Today series in London, Unsuk Chin. A second strand of free, early-evening programming was added to the London season in 2015 with a chamber music recital series, programmed and performed by members of the Orchestra, many of whom perform widely as solo and chamber musicians.

Millions of people since 1945 have enjoyed their first experience of classical music through a Philharmonia recording, and today audiences engage with the Orchestra through video games, film scores and its award-winning portfolio of videos and documentary films. An app, The Orchestra for iPad, released in December 2012, has sold tens of thousands of copies.

Recording and broadcasting both continue to play a significant part in the Orchestra's activities, notably through its partnership with Signum Records, releasing new live recordings of Philharmonia performances with its key conductors. Since 2003 the Philharmonia has enjoyed a major partnership with Classic FM, as the Classic FM Orchestra on Tour, as well as continuing to broadcast extensively on BBC Radio 3.

The Philharmonia's Education work sits at the centre of the life and wider work of the Orchestra. The department's work falls into four distinct strands – Schools and Young People, Communities and Family, Insights, and the Emerging Artists programme, reaching tens of thousands of people every year. Recent projects include instrumental projects with Music Hub partners; Key Stage 2 concerts Orchestra Unwrapped; intergenerational creative music-making community project Hear and Now in Bedford; a large-scale community commission to celebrate the discovery of King Richard III's remains in Leicester called The Last Plantagenet; a pioneering urban-classical project called Symphonize in Leicester; and The Firebird, an award-winning collaborative schools project working across Hounslow and Richmond boroughs.

The Philharmonia's Emerging Artists programme includes the Composers Academy, linked to Music of Today, and the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund, which has for many years supported talented musicians at the start of their careers. In 2016/17, the Orchestra relaunches the scheme as the Philharmonia MMSF Instrumental Fellowship Programme – an enhanced offer for young musicians, supporting instrumentalists seeking an orchestral career and connecting them to the wider life of the Philharmonia and the expertise within its membership.

Esther Yoo

Tchaikovsky - Philharmonia Orchestra, Ashkenazy

Deutsche Grammophon

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1 Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 / Allegro moderato  
2 Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 / Canzonetta (Andante)  
3 Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 / Finale (Allegro vivacissimo)  
4 Tchaikovsky: Pas de deux from Swan Lake  
5 Tchaikovsky: Danse Russe from Swan Lake  
6 Tchaikovsky: Serenade melancolique in B flat minor, Op. 26  
7 Tchaikovsky: Valse-Scherzo in C Major, Op. 34  
8 Tchaikovsky: Melodie from Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42  
Esther Yoo | Vladimir Ashkenazy | Philharmonia Orchestra - Tchaikovsky (album trailer)
Esther Yoo plays Bach's Partita No. 3 - BBC Newsnight
Esther's Practice Tips

Following the success of her debut, SibeliusGlazunov Violin Concertos, which achieved Gold Status in South Korea, Esther Yoo reveals her second album, which features the Tchaikovsky Violin Concertoand short works from the Russian composer such as "Pas de Deux" and"Danse Russe" from Swan Lake, Sérénade mélancolique, Valse-Scherzo and "Mélodie" from Souvenir d'un lieu cher.

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