Drew Youmans


Hometown: Stanfordville, NY

Alma maters: CUNY Queens College, B.M.; Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, M.M.

TŌN photos by Matt Dine


Awards/Competitions: Winner, 2014 Queens College Orchestra Competition; 2nd Prize, 2014 Queens Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition; Winner, 2007 Hudson Valley Philharmonic Virtuoso-in-Progress Competition

Musical origins: I began playing the violin at age four. My older brother had been playing as long as I have memories, and I began asking for a violin when I was three. To be sure it was what I really wanted, I had to sit through a year of his lessons before my mom got me my first violin (1/16th size!)

What inspired you to audition for TŌN? I heard about TŌN through some friends at the Shepherd School, however I had heard of the plans behind it the year or so before I ever moved to Texas. Coming back to the area I grew up in to play with this orchestra is a dream come true!

Favorite piece to play: Giuseppe Tartini’s The Devil’s Trill Sonata for Violin and Continuo

Favorite obscure piece: Ned Rorem’s Violin Sonata (1954)

Favorite musical memory: My first concert with the Shepherd Symphony Orchestra—I had never participated in music of that caliber before and it was just magical.

Which composer would have had the best social media: Hector Berlioz

Favorite fact about your instrument: Violin strings were first made of sheep gut (commonly known as catgut), which was stretched, dried, and twisted. Other materials violin strings have been made out of include solid steel, stranded steel, metal wound synthetic materials (such as Dominants), and now, many of us are playing titanium strings for greater projection!

The thing most people don’t know about classical music is: There are many ways to listen to classical music, and there is no one correct way. We all have a different happy place in absorbing music, and I think we learn a lot about ourselves as we find this mindset.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: Band: Modest Mouse; Producer: Flying Lotus

Musical guilty pleasure: I always do recording sessions in my sock feet.

Best music to have on repeat: Eighth Blackbird performing Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians

What recording would you take to a deserted island: One of the Mozart operas, preferably Die Zauberflöte

Proudest accomplishment: Musically, I am very proud of two concerts I played with the Queens College Chamber Orchestra, in which I played the Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with Charles Neidich conducting. In life, I would have to say becoming a competitive swimmer in high school (long after most swimmers have matured) and catching up with the status quo took a huge effort which I am still proud of.

Favorite non-musical hobby or activity: Swimming, reading

Last book read: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Favorite painting: The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Don’t be ashamed of the thoughts and feelings that playing your instrument can stir up! Playing music is an exploration of ourselves as well as the music, and you never know what might be hiding away somewhere.

Time travel destination: 1850s France or the 1950s in America