Simone Young AM

Conductor
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Australasia
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© Sandra Steh

Australian-born Simone Young is internationally recognised as one of the leading conductors of her generation and is the Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, having been Chief Conductor Designate since 2020. From 2005-2015 she was General Manager and Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera and Music Director of the Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg, where she conducted repertoire ranging from Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner and Strauss, to Hindemith, Britten and Henze. She is an acknowledged interpreter of the operas of Wagner and Strauss, having conducted several complete cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Vienna Staatsoper, the Staatsoper in Berlin and again, to great acclaim, in Hamburg as part of the ‘Wagner-Wahn’ Festival, during which she conducted the 10 major Wagner operas. Her Hamburg recordings include the Ring Cycle, Mathis der Maler (Hindemith), and symphonies of Bruckner, Brahms and Mahler. Her 2012 tour to Brisbane with the Hamburg Opera and Ballet, (Das Rheingold in concert, and Mahler Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”), won her the 2013 Helpmann Award for the Best Individual Classical Music Performance.

This year Simone Young will make her much-anticipated Bayreuth Festival debut conducting Wagner’s Ring Cycle. She also returns to both the Berlin and Vienna State Opera companies, the Berlin, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Oslo and Goeteborg Philharmonic Orchestras, Dallas and Washington National Symphony Orchestras, Orchestre Nationale de Lyon, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.

2023 saw the commencement of Simone Young’s Sydney Symphony Orchestra “Ring Cycle” with the presentation of Das Rheingold which played to sold out audiences, standing ovations and 5-star reviews. A second, feature-length documentary film, Knowing the Score, about Simone Young and her career was also internationally released in 2023.

Simone Young is regularly invited by the world’s great orchestras and has lead the New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna, Munich, Stockholm, New Japan, Helsinki, BBC and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras; the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo; Orchestre de Paris; Staatskapelle Dresden; the Bruckner Orchestra Linz; the Barcelona, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Minnesota, National Symphony Orchestra, Washington and the BBC Symphony Orchestras; the Bavarian Radio Symphony; the Deutsches Sinfonie, Berlin; the Wiener Symphoniker; the Polish National Radio Symphony; the MDR Orchestra; the NHK Symphony, Tokyo; and the Orchestra Nacionale de España, Madrid. In Australia she has conducted the West Australian, Adelaide, Melbourne and Queensland Symphony Orchestras and the Australian World Orchestra.

Also a highly sought-after guest conductor at the world’s leading opera houses, in recent seasons Simone Young has appeared at the Vienna State Opera:  Peter Grimes, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten), Die Fledermaus, Das verratene Meer (Henze), Lohengrin, The Gambler (Prokofiev), Faust, Parsifal and Salome; Bavarian State Opera, Munich: Jenufa, Tannhäuser, Aus einem toten Haus (Janacek), Tristan und Isolde, Fidelio, and Elektra; Berlin State Opera: Tosca, Fidelio, Chowantschina (Mussorgsky) Die Frau ohne Schatten, Tannhäuser; Zurich Opera: Salome, Elektra, Fidelio, Parsifal and Lohengrin; Teatro Real, Madrid: Lear (Reimann); Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm: Elektra. Most recent engagements include returns to The Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and her La Scala, Milan debut with Peter Grimes.

Simone Young was Music Director of Opera Australia from 2001 to 2003, Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra from 1999 – 2002 and from 2007 – 2012 was Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, Lisbon. Since 2017 she has been the Principal Guest Conductor of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.

Whilst Music Director of Opera Australia her development of musical standards in the company received praise from the profession and the public alike. During this time, productions she conducted included Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Otello, Eugene Onegin, Lulu, Lucia di Lammermoor, Tristan und Isolde, Tannhäuser, Falstaff, Don Carlos, Andrea Chenier, La bohème, Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro (from the fortepiano), Katya Kabanova, Un Ballo in Maschera, Der Rosenkavalier and Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci.

Simone Young is the recipient of many awards and honours including Honorary Member (Ehrenmitglied) of the Vienna State Opera, the 2019 European Cultural Prize Vienna, the 2014 International Opera Awards for best anniversary production for the Verdi trilogy – La battaglia di Legnano, I due Foscari, I Lombardi with the Hamburg Staatsoper, the 2011 Sir Bernard Heinze Award, the 2005 prestigious Goethe Institute Medal, her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2004, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France and Honorary Doctorates from the University of Western Australia, Griffith University, Monash University and the University of New South Wales.

She has also been elected to the Akademie der Kuenste in Hamburg, nominated as the Conductor of the Year by Opernwelt magazine and awarded a Professorship at the Musikhochschule in Hamburg. Other awards include Green Room Awards for her performances of Die Frau ohne Schatten (Melbourne Festival), Tristan und Isolde, and Lulu, Helpmann Awards for Best Classical Concert with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Best Musical Direction (Andrea Chenier), the Mo Award for “Classical Performer of the Year”, and a Grammy nomination for her recording of La Juive.

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"The SSO under Young brought forth a wealth of glories. To the burnished brilliance of the brass and warmth of the horns is added the tactile textural complexity of the Wagner tubas, while the woodwind coloured both dark and brilliant moments and the strings energised with swirling figuration. Young paced the work with an experienced dramatic understanding. Those with an interest in Wagner won’t want to miss this. Those without an interest won’t want to miss the chance to get one."

Peter McCallum

"For this writer, brought up on the Rings of Solti, Karajan and Boulez (and later Barenboim), the SSO’s performance of Das Rheingold under Young fulfils the dream of a lifetime: namely, to witness a live performance that rivals those of the aforementioned maestros………Young exceeds herself, avoiding the bombastic fanfares that can often drown out the strings, instead drawing them out as they undulate beneath the brass, along with the woodwinds. The result is an overwhelming sense of rapture that has us on the edge of our seats. No wonder we are so quick to jump to our feet."

Jansson J. Antmann,

“An absolutely epic evening conducted by Simone Young……. The Sydney Symphony reached white heat in this movement and I don’t think I’ve ever heard an orchestra play with such manic abandon…. What a concert! “

“Young must now be acknowledged as a leading Messiaeniste. Not only does she know how to draw out his sumptuous near-operatic sonorities, but she tosses off those perilous rhythmic quirks – all those added value notes! – without batting an eyelid. She is known as a hard task-master and was clearly the perfect conductor for the AWO and its young ANAM colleagues.”

Vincent Plush

“..the conductor herself was cheered as she mounted the podium, while the QSO looked like it couldn’t wait to get stuck in. And that’s pretty much how it stayed all night, the orchestra playing out of its skin for a conductor it clearly adores.”

Martin Buzacott

“Under Young’s meticulous direction, the Hamburg Philharmonic plays with the precision and transparency of a specialist new music ensemble, conjuring an endless procession of breathtakingly beautiful aural landscapes...Like the best cooks, Young leaves us wanting more.”

Shirley Apthorp

“…While acknowledging its darker undercurrents, her inspiring performance celebrated its sense of cosmic mystery and spiritual wonderment… the quality of the orchestral playing matched the magnificence of Young’s conception”.

Murray Black

“…Her liquid but decisive gestures invite nuance and subtlety, while demanding energy and rhythmic precision. There were moments, particularly in the third and sixth movements of the Brahms, where she took a firm grip on the performance and propelled it thrillingly forward. Young was equally adept in moments of stillness, tenderness and reflection. It is a joy to watch such a wonderful conductor so hard at work”.

Paul Hopwood

Managed by Graham Pushee: Email Graham February 2024

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