Charging Up The Ranks
Caleb Young’s cat, Godrick, got over 700,000 views on #catsofinstagram. When asked who’s more Instagram famous, Young laughed.
“Godrick, for sure!” For now, perhaps.
Not to disparage Godrick — who Young refers to as his “therapy cat” — but Young, 29, assistant conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, is charging up the ranks of his chosen profession, using his talent, energy, personality (and social media skills) to build on his success.
Music has always been a part of Young’s life. At three, he began playing piano, eventually adding the trumpet and euphonium to his repertoire. He was drum major in his high school’s marching band. “By my last year of high school, I knew music was what wanted I wanted to pursue. I went to the University of Alabama and studied euphonium with the plan to play professionally.”
Non-music majors may wonder: What’s a euphonium? It’s a member of the tuba family, a brass instrument similar to the baritone horn but with a conical bore (it grows larger as it progresses toward the bell) as opposed to a baritone’s straight bore.
“At college I had two good friends who were studying conducting and I became interested in the orchestra, but the euphonium isn’t part of the orchestra…
“…I kept up the euphonium — which was crucial in improving my musicianship — but added conducting my senior year.”
Young decided that conducting was his career path and knew that meant graduate school.
Young received his master’s degree in orchestral conducting and spent the following year living in Dallas. Young had been hired to cover the orchestras in St. Louis and Fort Worth. (Large orchestras hire assistant conductors to temporarily cover the main conductors as needed.)
“That was a critical year for me in terms of experience,” said Young. “And then the Fort Wayne position opened up, and I decided to audition.”
Young was hired to be the assistant conductor of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in the fall of 2016. He was 27 years old.
His responsibilities include serving as cover conductor to all master works and other programs and to conduct a variety of concerts throughout the season including Pops, education, family, ballet, film and other special events. Anyone who’s seen him conduct can appreciate the energy and joy that he brings to every performance.
Young has appreciated the level at which Andrew Constantine, music director of the Philharmonic, has involved him in the running of the orchestra. While Constantine has the final say on the hiring of musicians, he has also involved Young in that process.
Not every lead conductor will do that,” said Young.
Young is particularly motivated by the goal of attracting new audiences to the Philharmonic. “We’re trying to speak to a broader demographic, to break down the barriers that have been set up by the institution — the stereotypes about classical music being fussy and formal. It’s time to forget the conventions, because they are no longer relevant,” said Young. “The goal is to make great music and make it easier for everyone to enjoy, to engage with the audience.
“The audience is what allows us to do what we do,” he continued. “We’re trying to serve the community — it is the city’s orchestra —and to show our appreciation. We’re taking the orchestra to places that normally wouldn’t hear us with free outreach concerts: downtown, at Sweetwater, in schools, even to the juvenile detention center.”
Young also spearheaded the Music and Mixology program to attract the under-35 set. Designed to cultivate a love of classical music one drink at a time, the events begin with a
Philharmonic performance followed by drinks and discussion at Wine Down with Young and musicians from the orchestra.
“Fort Wayne is really taking the Philharmonic into the 21st century…”
…said Young. “I have colleagues at other similar-sized cities and, comparably, we have a very wide scope and are pushing the envelope in many ways. The Phil is latching on to the momentum Fort Wayne has, and I feel privileged to be a part of its growth.”
Young mentioned the maxim, “There are three kinds of musicians lucky, hard-working and talented.” Young certainly has all three going for him.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic has several upcoming concerts including PHILharmonious: A Night at the Movies, its annual gala and auction,
6 pm, June 1, The Clyde Theatre, 1808 Bluffton Road. The Philharmonic will also be hosting several Patriotic Pops concerts over the July 4th holiday.
For details, visit fwphil.org