SINGAPORE - The new concertmaster of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra was once an exchange student at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory and even played at Victoria Concert Hall.
American violinist Igor Yuzefovich, 34, has been appointed after a two-year search that screened at least 50 applicants.
The former concertmaster of the Hong Kong Philharmonic and current assistant concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra made his official bow with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra last Saturday at the Esplanade Concert Hall, at a Brahms concert conducted by John Nelson.
Moscow-born Yuzefovich takes over from Russia-born violinist, Alexander Souptel, who led the orchestra for 19 years before retiring from the concertmaster post this January.
Guest concermasters and co-leader Lynnette Seah filled in during the interim.
Souptel, 65, continues to play with the orchestra and Yuzefovich pays tribute to the older man during this interview.
"I consider myself pretty fortunate that he's with the orchestra, having started with such an incredible conductor," he says, referring to Souptel's early career in the then Soviet Union with the USSR Ministry Of Culture Orchestra under Gennady Rozhdestvensky.
"It's quite rare these days to have this amount of knowledge. It's heart-warming to have him in the section."
He speaks of the orchestra in equally glowing terms. "Having come and played a week with the orchestra, I was really struck by how good it is. It's very high-level, very talented. It has this really positive energy on stage."
Yuzefovich will be giving up a tenured position with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to move to Singapore.
His 18-month term with the Hong Kong Philharmonic used up the two-year sabbatical the US orchestra allows its members.