The top pianist tells us why youth orchestras are so special – and not just for the viola jokes.

You’re a professional musician at the top of your game – with your busy schedule, what makes you want to perform with a youth orchestra?

Why wouldn’t I want to perform with a youth orchestra? Ultimately, I want to work with musicians who are there for one reason – to produce music. The impetus that gave rise to the great works in the first place can be harnessed in the hearts and minds of young people. They are driven, exuberant, focused, and most importantly – it’s a fun atmosphere, where the score really is king. A recipe for edge-of-your-seat music making.

You’ve spent over a decade performing with SYO. What can audiences expect from the orchestra?

The unexpected. The burgeoning effect of youth translates so well onto the score – it becomes a melting pot, a Bunsen burner of chemical transmutations! Many of the SYO players will become mainstayers on the national and world stage. Most will stay in the music field in some capacity. The common force is that all will equally be transformed by the power of performance – and thus so will I. As soloist, I have the...