Meet the SFS Musicians: Assistant Principal Cello Amos Yang

SF Symphony Assistant Principal Cello Amos Yang (with his son Noah) reflects on his musical beginnings and the role of music in his family.

Amos Yang

Assistant Principal Cello
Member since: 2006
Hometown: San Francisco
School: Juilliard

Discovering the cello: My mother and I were going to sign up for violin lessons when we bumped into a family friend whose daughter had just auditioned for a wonderful new cello teacher (Irene Sharp at the SF Conservatory). My mom asked me if I wanted to try the cello, I shrugged my shoulders indifferently and off we went to the audition. It turns out the audition consisted of “bear hugging” a tiny cello. As soon as I did that I was accepted into the studio and here I am forty plus years later still playing and hugging my cello most mornings.

Early musical influences: I was part of the SFS Youth Orchestra during its first five years. I was a bit of a challenge as an easily distracted eleven-year-old, but I’m glad they stuck with me. It was a terrific experience and training ground. The San Francisco Boys Chorus also helped develop my physical and musical voice. I am constantly encouraging my students to sing — if you can sing it, you can play it!

Living with Bach: The Bach unaccompanied cello suites are works I am enjoying more and more as I grow with and into them. I’m planning to perform a Bach Suite cycle in the next two years and I hope to integrate other instruments along with some subtle visuals. Playing at SoundBox has been a revelation; the atmosphere and opportunity to perform solo works has been invigorating on many levels.

San Francisco Symphony cellist Amos Yang

Playing the world’s great halls: Anytime we set foot in or draw the bow across the strings in a place like the Concertgebouw or the Musikverein, it’s like a baseball player playing a game in Yankee Stadium or for a basketball player, the Boston Garden. It’s a blessing and a privilege to share music with audiences in these settings.

Other musical activities: I enjoy getting involved in as many varied musical experiences as I can; I was previously a full-time quartet player and play a lot of chamber music with colleagues in the Bay Area. I’m presently teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory and also work with the San Francisco Academy Orchestra.

Interests outside the SFS: My wife and I have two children, so I try to get in as much family time as possible. I hope to tackle the Death Ride or a similar biking challenge this year. I completed it two years ago but promptly rested on my laurels, so hopefully that will get me back in shape.