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Biography
Pelletier

Rémi Pelletier joined the New York Philharmonic’s viola section in July 2013, having served in the Montreal Symphony Orchestra beginning in 2007. Previously, he was a regular substitute with The Philadelphia Orchestra and performed with The Haddonfield Symphony and Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal. He served as guest principal viola of the International Orchestra of Italy in the summers of 2011 and 2012, principal viola of Japan’s Pacific Music Festival, and assistant principal of the New York String Orchestra Seminar.

An active chamber musician, Mr. Pelletier was a regular guest at the Société de musique de chambre de Québec and performed with Rendez-vous musical de Laterrière and Musica Camerata, as well as with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s chamber music series. His honors include the CBC/McGill Music Award (2003) as well as first prize at the Concours du Québec and Canada’s National Music Festival Competition.

A native of Québec, Mr. Pelletier was a scholarship recipient at Encore School for Strings and the Orford Arts Centre. He performed a recital on the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s Debut Series. In addition to attending master classes with Kim Kashkashian, Roberto Diaz, and others, Rémi Pelletier studied with Michael Tree and Joseph De Pasquale at The Curtis Institute of Music, and with André Roy at McGill University, from which he graduated with the distinction of Outstanding Achievement in Viola Performance and where he was principal viola of the McGill Symphony Orchestra.

“Starting at age 14 I studied to be a master of Japanese tea ceremony. I’d wake up at 8 a.m. on Sundays and take the subway one hour to do tea ceremonies with an old lady from Kyoto.”

Q&A with Rémi Pelletier

THE FACTS: Born in Quebec, Canada. Education: The Curtis Institute of Music and McGill University. Prior to the Philharmonic: Montreal Symphony Orchestra and a regular substitute with The Philadelphia Orchestra; performed with The Haddonfield Symphony and Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal. At the Philharmonic: Joined July 2013.

HOW DID YOU START PLAYING VIOLA? I started violin at age five because I fell in love with a girl — Karen Gomyo, who today is a superstar soloist and close friend. I played violin through high school but got tired of the high pitch and show-off repertoire and quit music for two years. I traveled in Japan, then cooked at a Japanese restaurant in Montreal. The sushi chef, one of the best in Canada, was very serious about me, and he said I should pick sushi or music. I started having dreams that I was running through the forest looking for my instrument, and I’d wake up with anxiety. I realized I needed to choose music. My neighbor was a violist, and she suggested that I try viola. I loved it: it’s close to the human voice, and violists’ laid-back energy is more suited to my personality.

WHO WERE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES? Michael Tree, my teacher at Curtis. I was always inspired by his positive spirit; he taught me viola and how to live life. Also André Roy, my viola teacher in Montreal, who built my roots as a violist.

MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS? I love French music: I’m fascinated by Ravel and Debussy — the textures, the colors. And I love Mahler and Bruckner.

WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES DID YOU DO IN HIGH SCHOOL? Starting at age 14 I studied to be a master of Japanese tea ceremony. I’d wake up at 8 a.m. on Sundays and take the subway one hour to do tea ceremonies with an old lady from Kyoto.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE PHILHARMONIC: Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony with Manfred Honeck — I still have goosebumps when I think about it. It was spiritual, and one of the most incredible musical experiences of my life.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? Yoga; run in Central Park; cook for friends — like my own restaurant, complete with a menu; movies; photography; and tango — those musicians have an open spirit that I love and try to incorporate in my playing. Also I want to learn Portuguese and perfect my Japanese.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN? Simplify your life — advice from Michael Tree — and live with passion — advice from my favorite filmmaker, Pedro Almodóvar.

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