(Click on video) About Stephanie Childress, String Category Finalist, BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016.
Stephanie Childress is a violinist and conductor who has started distinguishing herself as one of the most interesting and versatile musicians of her age. Born in London to a non-musical family, her first musical recollections consisted of Doris Day and Queen before classical music. However, she became enthralled with the violin after hearing Vivaldi’s Four seasons and decided to start the piano at the age of 5 before continuing onto the violin at the age of 6. She attended the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in London from 2003 to 2014 and the Royal College of Music Junior Department from 2008 to 2015, where she studied violin, piano, voice and was Leader of both the Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra. In October 2015, at the age of 16, she started as an undergraduate reading Music at St John’s College, University of Cambridge.
She has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician in such venues as Saddler’s Wells, the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall. She was a prize-winner at the Sevenoaks Young Musician of the Year and the Abingdon Concerto Competition in 2014. In July 2014, members of the LSO awarded her the LSO String Academy Candide Award for Outstanding Performance. She won the Duke of Devonshire Award at the Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra Young Soloist Competition in 2015. In 2016 she was a finalist in the String Category of the Royal Over-Seas League Competition and is a Category Finalist in the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition which was broadcasted on BBC 4 as well as on BBC 3 Radio. In April 2017 Stephanie attended the IMS Masterclass in Prussia Cove under the tutelage of Andras Keller.
Stephanie currently studies the violin with Pieter Schoeman, Leader of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and plays on an Italian violin made by Francesco Gobetti, Venice c 1710
As well as being a soloist, Stephanie is a highly accomplished orchestral musician. Stephanie was Concert Master of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in 2015, having been co-leader in 2014. She had joined the orchestra a year earlier, aged 13. With the NYO Stephanie had the chance to perform in England’s most distinguished concert halls such as the Barbican, the Royal Festival Hall, Leeds Town Hall and at Snape Maltings. For the NYOGB 2015 Summer Concert Series, she led the NYO for the premiere of an unconducted modern work, Re-Greening, composed by Tansy Davies. This was then followed by the epic Mahler 9 conducted by Sir Mark Elder, and culminated in concerts at the BBC Proms and Konzerthaus Berlin. More recently, she led the Alison Balsom Ensemble, a group of professional baroque players for Alison Balsom’s tour of Germany in December 2016, ending with a concert at Wigmore Hall. In 2017, she was appointed as the artistic director of the tenth Young Virtuosi Summer Classical Music Festival.
As well as being involved in classical music, Stephanie has long been involved in musical theatre. In 2013 she led and coached the Orchestra of the National Youth Music Theatre for its production of West Side Story, where she worked with Music Director Tom Deering. She was NYMT Youth Ambassador for their 2014-2015 season and Assistant Music Director for the 2016 production of Brass.
It is her love of theatre and opera which peaked Stephanie’s interest in conducting.
“I distinctly remember watching rehearsals for Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier at the ENO when I was 12 or 13 and being completely enthralled by everything that was going on. The score was unlike anything I had ever heard before and the interweaving vocal lines of the final trio completely blew me away. I think the possibility of conducting opera as well as the symphonic repertoire made me realize that I had to conduct.”
She also had the opportunity of shadowing the Music Staff at the Royal Opera House for the 2013 productions of Gloriana, Simon Boccanegra, Parsifal and Elektra as part of her work experience. She is busy learning scores at every opportunity whilst attending as many Master classes as time allows. Her first Conducting Workshop was in 2012 at the London Master Classes led by Maestro Benjamin Zander. She subsequently attended Conducting Workshops in Venice and Paris led by Neil Thomson and John Farrer. In January 2017 she conducted her first opera, Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at St. John’s College Cambridge, followed by Lennox Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement for the Cambridge University Opera Society in June 2017.
Future engagements include conducting a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at St John’s College and the position of musical director in the Cambridge University Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of Ruddigore.