By Stephanie Powell
Huang, 36, is currently the Houston Symphony’s concertmaster. He will take over in his new role at the NY Phil in September.
It’s been a series of eventful weeks for Huang, who was out of town when he received news of the appointment.
“I was in Scottsdale, Arizona, when I got the call and it was funny because I had a really bad connection where I was and the phone cut off once or twice before I could finally talk to Alan [Gilbert],” Huang says over the phone in between rehearsals with the Houston Symphony. “I remember the moment when he told me—I was in my room in a host family’s house—and I was very surprised and happy to hear the news.”
Huang’s appointment was announced publically on April 9, and was married to Sarah Ludwig, a violinist with the Houston Grand Opera, the very next day.
The next year will be a transitional year, Huang says, with many of the details still to be worked out. He is eager to start his new venture, which he points out, isn’t necessarily that new, but is the same job he’s currently managing.
“It’s the same role, just in a different orchestra,” Huang says. “[I hope to] make the orchestra sound as good as it can and make sure that everyone is focused artistically on the same goals.
“For me personally it’s very important to really enjoy the process of making music, and to make sure it’s fun and inspiring.”
Huang, born in Beijing, China, moved to the US and began studying violin when he was seven years old. He won first prizes in the 2003 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s violin competition, the 2000 Hannover International violin competition, and was first violinist of the Ying Quartet before joining the Houston Symphony in 2010.
Alan Gilbert, the philharmonic’s music director who announced he will be stepping down in 2017 after an eight-season run, told the New York Times he felt that this was one of his most “crucial” appointments yet.
When asked about joining the orchestra as Gilbert transitions out of his role, Huang told the New York Times that “whoever is the director will make a big impact, but a great orchestra will sound great no matter who’s conducting. With such talented musicians, you’re going to get committed and convincing playing regardless of the interpretation.”
As for filling the shoes of legend Glenn Dicterow, Huang was thankful for the recent opportunity to sit down and chat with the former concertmaster himself.
“They are big shoes to fill,” Huang says with a laugh. “[We talked about] his experiences during his time [at the NY Phil], and it was very fun to get to know him a little more. He has a lot of respect from his colleagues and so much knowledge about the role of concertmaster.”
Huang says he’s looking forward to getting to know the orchestra, and notes that his time as guest concertmaster, prior to the appointment, was rewarding, comfortable, and full of great interactions.
Huang’s first performance with the NY Phil will be the opening gala concert of its 2015-16 season.