Artistic Staff

Conductors and coaches of the Young Artists Philharmonic
Tara Simoncic

Tara Simoncic

Guest Conductor, Young Artists Philharmonic

Tara Simoncic is a young American conductor on the rise. Comfortable in all genres, Ms. Simoncic frequently works with Symphony Orchestras as well as Opera and Ballet Companies in America and abroad.  An enthusiast of dance repertoire, Ms. Simoncic is currently serving her third season as Music Director of Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Utah where she has conducted such works as: “Le Sacre du Printempts”, “Jeux”, “Symphony in C”, “Swan Lake”, “Madame Butterfly” “The Nutcracker”, “Romeo and Juliet”, and “Fancy Free” with tremendous success. Ms. Simoncic is also the Conductor of the Louisville Ballet where she has conducted such works as: “Kammermusic no, 2”, “Western Symphony”, “Concerto Barocco”, and “Square Dance”.

During the 2016/17 Season, she will make her conducting debut with the New York City Ballet with their world-renowned production of Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”. She will also make her debut with Tearo Colòn in Buenos Aires, and with Atlanta Ballet on a new production with music by British Film Composer, Peter Salem, known for his film scores to “Call the Midwife” and “Great Expectations”.   Ms. Simoncic has held the position of Conductor of the Flexible Orchestra, a contemporary ensemble in New York City, since 2003 where she works closely with composers to champion new works specifically written for the ensemble each season.  Since 2011, she has serve as the Music Director of the Greenwich Symphony’s Young People’s Concerts which bring classical music to thousands of students in the Greenwich area each year.

Ms. Simoncic formerly held the position Music Director of the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra of New Jersey, Assistant Conductor of the Harrisburg Symphony and Music Director of the Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestras, and Music Director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony in Connecticut. She has worked extensively with orchestras in the New York area as well as the Knoxville Symphony, the Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra, the Omaha Youth Symphony, the Bohuslav Symphony Orchestra of and the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra of the Czech Republic, the Adygeya Republic National Symphony of and the Maikop Conservatory Orchestra of Russia.  Ms. Simoncic has worked with such notable ballet companies as the American Ballet Theatre, the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, the Stamford Ballet School, Rioult Dance Theatre Company, and the Martha Graham Dance Company.

In addition to her work in the United States, Tara Simoncic also enjoys a thriving international conducting career. Most recently, she conducted performances of “Don Giovanni” in Trieste, Italy at the Piccolo Festival del Friuli Venezia Giulia.  She also recently conducted “Swan Lake” and “The Barber of Seville” with the Slovenian National Opera Ballet Theatre as well a symphonic concert for the International Music Festival in Maribor, Slovenia.  This summer, she will conduct performances of “La Forza Del Destino” in Athens, Greece.

At the age of 6, Tara Simoncic began studying the trumpet and went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in Trumpet Performance from the New England Conservatory.  She holds a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from Northwestern University and received a full scholarship to study at the Manhattan School of Music where she holds a Professional Studies Diploma in Orchestral Conducting.  In 2011, Ms. Simoncic received the Bruno Walter Scholarship Award to study with Marin Alsop and Gustav Meyer at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.

Darwin Shen

Darwin Shen

Conductor, Young String Ensemble

Darwin Shen has been performing as a soloist in concert halls and with ensembles and orchestras all over the United States for over twenty years.  Although he continues to perform much of the standard violin repertoire of concertos, sonatas and short pieces, in recent years he has specialized in resurrecting lost or rarely performed works of the late 19thand early 20th centuries.  He has been sought after by other artists and musicians as an expert in these works, and his most recent projects in this area have been published online.

 Most recently, Darwin reconstructed the 1940’s Heifetz arrangement of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and rare pieces by Leopold Auer and John Crowther, and published his work online in video format.  All were highlighted by  Darwin is currently working on a number of similar projects.

In addition to his performance schedule, Darwin maintains a teaching studio for pre-college students in the New York metropolitan area.  His students have gone on to study at many of the major music conservatories and colleges in the United States.  Darwin is also the founder and executive director of the Violin Audition Prep Program, an annual, intensive program which is designed to teach young musicians how to approach and perform in auditions of all types, including for college and conservatory admissions and orchestra placements.  He also works with student orchestras and school music programs as a guest teacher, helping students work through intensive rehearsals or difficult pieces.

Darwin studied violin with Paul Kantor, Kyung Yu and Yuval Waldman.  He also has a BA degree in History from Manhattanville College.

Gregory Robbins

Gregory Robbins

Conductor, Young People's Symphony

American conductor Gregory Robbins enjoys a diverse career as a performer, educator, and arts administrator. In the world of education, he was the director of educational outreach at the Geneva Music Festival from 2011-2016, and is currently in his sixth season with the Young Artists Philharmonic. He has guest conducted numerous youth, secondary, and collegiate ensembles including the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, Norwalk Youth Symphony, NYU Symphony, and NY State Summer School of the Arts Orchestra. In the world of performance, Mr. Robbins is in demand as a conductor and bassist, serving as associate conductor of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony from 2014-16, and making numerous guest conducting appearances in the U.S. and Europe. Highlights of his 2017/18 season include conducting debuts with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra, and a performance with John Cale and the Wordless Music Orchestra which gained wide acclaim from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker. Mr. Robbins holds degrees in classical music performance from Manhattan School of Music and Yale School of Music. In the world of film and tv, he is the “conducting coach” for Gael Garcia Bernal, star of Amazon’s hit Mozart in the Jungle series.

Emily Uematsu

Emily Uematsu

Strings Coach

Violinist Emily Uematsu enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. She has won numerous awards and competitions, performed in prestigious venues around the United States and Europe, and has collaborated with distinguished artists such as Joseph Silverstein, Ani Kavafian, and Alexander Kerr. Most recently, she was a finalist in the 2017 Gershwin International Music Competition and the winner of the 2017 Parnassus Society award. She won a section violin position with the New Haven Symphony in 2016. In 2014, Emily gave her debut New York Recital at Steinway Hall, sponsored by the Jascha Heifetz Society.
Emily graduated from the Juilliard School Pre-College Division, completed her B.M. at Chapman University, and earned her Master of Music from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in May 2016 as the recipient of the Itzhak Perlman Endowed Scholarship. Major teachers include Paul Kantor, William Fitzpatrick, Stephen Clapp, Catherine Cho, and Ray Iwazumi.
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