Yoonshin Song, a 30-year-old violinist from South Korea, is the new concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Song succeeds Emmanuelle Boisvert, who left last May to become associate concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, after the Detroit orchestra’s long and near-crippling strike.
Song, who has played with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra since 2010, spent last week in a trial run as the DSO's concertmaster (first violinist).
At a matinee performance that this reporter attended on Friday, Song led the section with precise gestures and an apparently easy rapport. The centerpiece of the program, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, gave the new concertmaster a good opportunity to evaluate the ensemble's style and character.
Music director Leonard Slatkin announced Song's hiring from the stage Sunday at intermission in a concert that was webcast live. "Yoonshin, in only a few days, established herself as one of the very best," said Slatkin in his comments. "Her musical skills and method of communication go hand in hand with my own philosophies."
Mark Stryker, the music critic of the Detroit Free Press, called Song's hiring "a major artistic coup for the DSO as it rebuilds after last year’s debilitating strike." The strike, which lasted six months was accompanied by a surge of musician turnover (including the departure of the orchestra's full percussion section). Boisvert left the concertmaster post after 23 years of service in the DSO.
In the last month, the DSO has hired six new players, replacing those who have left either due to retirement or the strike fallout.
A native of Seoul, South Korea, Song received her master's degree at the New England Conservatory and an artist diploma at the Manhattan School of Music. Her teachers in New York were New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glen Dicterow and violinist Robert Mann of the Juilliard String Quartet. She is the winner of the 2007 Stradivarius International Violin Competition.
Kimberly Kalyoanides Kennedy will continue to be acting concertmaster until Song arrives in September.
Below: Song bows at DSO's Friday matinee concert: