For BC Junior Haesoo Yoon, Success Found At Symphony Hall

Boston Symphony Hall, adorned in the style of Renaissance architecture with chandeliers and replicas of Greek and Roman statues, seats 2,625 people. Last week, when violist Haesoo Yoon, MCAS ’17, took the stage, it was fully packed—overbooked by approximately 1,000 people.

“Apparently, before they opened the door, the line was curving all the way up the block,” she said.


Yoon started playing the violin before she began elementary school and switched to the viola in third grade. Her mother, who was once a professional violinist in Korea, wanted Yoon to have a musical education. Since then, Yoon has become extremely accomplished, recently joining the prestigious Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO).

The orchestra, conducted by the renowned Benjamin Zander, was founded in 2012 and has already established itself as one of the most selective and talented orchestras in New England. Players range in age from 12 to 21 and were chosen through a rigorous audition process. Approximately one-third attend New England colleges and conservatories, while two-thirds attend local high schools.

Most auditioned in the spring, but Yoon auditioned late in the fall after being contacted about there being spaces open for specific instruments. While many BPYO players are looking to have a professional music career, Yoon jumped at the opportunity solely for the joy of playing.

“I think this is probably the last chance I’m going to have to play in a pre-professional group,” she said.

Yoon is an art history major with a potential double major or minor in philosophy. This past summer she went abroad to Madrid, exploring her academic interests further through Boston College’s art history study abroad program. Although Yoon does not wish to pursue music professionally, playing the viola has a special role in her life. “I think that if I just don’t play, then I’ll know a part of me is missing,” she said. “That’s another reason why I joined an outside orchestra, because I missed playing so much.”

Although BPYO is a major time commitment and involves a heavy practice schedule, Yoon said she finds herself more motivated in every task she takes on—both inside and outside the realm of music. “Even though you technically have more work when you join a group like BPYO, because you have to practice more, it motivates me more and helps me to perform better—not just in music,” she said.

As a musician who has played an instrument since before elementary school, music has become habitual. “It hit me recently that I have been playing for more than half of my life,” Yoon said.

On her musical taste, she is a “huge romantic period fan.” Yoon said her favorite piece from the concert she recently played with BPYO is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. “I think that’s what people usually think of when they think of classical, romantic music—it’s either that or classical Mozart,” she said.

Monday’s concert was BPYO’s first performance, opening up the 2015-16 season. There will be another concert in Symphony Hall in February, and a following one in May in Sanders Theater at Harvard University. This summer, BPYO will be going on tour. “We don’t know where exactly yet, but they’re trying for Brazil,” Yoon said.

Besides playing for BPYO, Yoon has also been actively involved in BC’s music scene. During her sophomore and freshman years, she played in the BC chamber group. Freshman year, she was in a piano quartet, and then last year, a piano quintet.

This year, she is no longer involved in BC’s chamber group, but she does still play in the Boston College Symphony Orchestra (BCSO). Although she missed many rehearsals, Yoon said that John Finney, conductor of the BCSO, let her play in the orchestra’s concert on Sunday, since the BCSO was also, coincidentally, playing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

Yoon describes playing the viola as a great outlet and release from daily pressures and stresses. “Sometimes I just don’t want to talk, and it’s a relief to sit there, play with everyone and listen to the music everyone else is playing,” she said.

Featured Image courtesy of Haesoo Yoon

Maddie Phelps

Learn More →