SF Symphony Assistant Principal Cello Amos Yang (with his son Noah) reflects on his musical beginnings and the role of music in his family.
Assistant Principal Cello
Member since: 2006
Hometown: San Francisco
Watching San Francisco Symphony Assistant Principal Cello Amos Yang onstage, you’d never guess that his introduction to the cello was anything less than love at first sight. “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,” he says. “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.”
Amos’s is a uniquely San Francisco story. He studied with Irene Sharp at the San Francisco Conservatory and played with the SFS Youth Orchestra in its early days. “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.” Amos’s studies weren’t limited to orchestral playing, however. “The San Francisco Boys Chorus also helped develop my physical and musical voice. I am constantly encouraging my students to sing and most of them are too embarrassed and inhibited to do this. If you can sing it you can play it!”
He went on to earn degrees from the Juilliard School before landing a post with the Seattle Symphony and performing as a member of the Maia String Quartet. Winning a position with the SFS in 2006 offered a rare and prized opportunity to join his hometown orchestra.
Amos’s return to the Bay Area continued the circle in more than one way. His son, Noah, also studies cello with Irene Sharp, while Amos teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory. He and his wife, violinist Alicia, are also parents to a daughter, Isabel, a budding violinist who sings in the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
The enormity of being part of the orchestra he listened to as a child isn’t lost on Amos. “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.”
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