The Facts: Born in Hollywood, California. Bachelor’s degree in music performance, the University of Southern California; master’s degree from the University of Michigan. Prior to the Philharmonic: principal viola, San Diego Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. At the Philharmonic: Joined in 1992. Solo debut with the Orchestra: spring 1993, in Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante, on a European tour. Most recent recording: Air, a Telarc CD for flute, viola, and harp, nominated for a Grammy Award
Earliest musical memory: Playing the violin with my four sisters. We had two violinists (in addition to me), a cellist, and a pianist. All of us became professional musicians. The first piece I really fell in love with was Dvořák’s American String Quartet. I was 11 and had just switched to the viola. The instrument has a sound and color I really responded to. It’s the alto sound of the orchestra.
What kind of viola do you play? A Gaspar da Salo, ca. 1580, which the Philharmonic owns. I spent four years looking for it. It has a very dark, throaty sound, which is what I’ve always liked. It’s quite big and very temperamental. I have to baby it!
If you could play another instrument, what would it be? I would love to sing, if I had a voice. I always look forward to our performances with great opera singers.
Who were your most important musical influences? My teacher William Primrose, with whom I studied in the last two years of his life, and my chamber music coaches at the Marlboro Music Festival: Felix Galimir, Rudolf Serkin, and David Soyer
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities in high school? I was on the student council and also a cheerleader.
What are your duties as Principal Viola? Coordinating bowings with the other string principals, using rhythmic body language to lead the section, and acting as an intermediary between the section and the conductor if there are questions. The fun part is playing solos and representing the section at the highest level I can manage.
What personal traits are required of a principal player? You have to really enjoy taking responsibility, making decisions, and being outgoing and a dynamic performer — having a profile that people can respond to.
What do you like to do outside of work? Spend time with my husband, three daughters, and two grandchildren, and swim, run, practice yoga, and play a lot of tennis. I have a big viola and I try to keep fit and strong. I’m a California girl!
As of February 2019