Judith Nelson, Viola

The New York Philharmonic

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Biography
Judith Nelson

Violist Judith Nelson joined the Philharmonic in 1983. A native of Portland, Oregon, she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington (Seattle) and also holds a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School. As a student, she received the University of Washington’s highest music award, the Brechemin Scholarship, and performed concertos by Mozart, Hindemith, Walton, and Bartók with the University Symphony and the Seattle Symphony.

Time in the outdoors is important to Ms. Nelson. Vacations are spent hiking and cycling, often in her native West; at home in New York, she blades, runs, and practices yoga. Other interests include books, especially twentieth-century fiction and poetry, languages, and jazz. A favorite recreation is reading string quartets with friends. Ms. Nelson’s recording of David Kechley’s Sonata for Viola and Piano can be found on Liscio Recordings.

“I’ve played Mahler’s Fifth almost 100 times, but there’s always more to hear and strive for. I feel so lucky to commune with these incredible composers on a daily basis. ”

Q&A with Judith Nelson

THE FACTS: Born in Portland, Oregon. Graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the University of Washington; won the university’s highest music award, and performed concertos with the University Symphony and Seattle Symphony; master’s degree from The Juilliard School. Taught at the University of Evansville and Memphis State University, performing in its resident quartets and as a recitalist. Former Governor of the New York Chapter of the GRAMMY organization. At the Philharmonic: Joined in 1983. Most recent recordings: David Kechley’s Sonata for Viola and Piano (Liscio Recordings) and Gary William Friedman’s Colloquy for Viola and Piano (150 Music).

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: Singing Spike Jones comedy songs on car trips with my parents

WHEN DID YOU START STUDYING MUSIC? I started playing violin in fourth grade, but was largely focused on competitive swimming. The next year I developed an allergy to chlorine and had to quit the swim team. When my parents asked what I would do with my newfound free time, I announced that I was going to become a concert violinist. This was quite unrealistic, as I was terrible! But here I am — albeit as a violist. (Insert viola joke here.) Persistence pays off!

WHY DID YOU SWITCH TO VIOLA? At 19 I was asked to play viola in my chamber orchestra for a couple weeks and fell in love with the sound. It felt like I had found my real voice.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR MUSIC-MAKING FRESH? I’ve played Mahler’s Fifth almost 100 times, but there’s always more to hear and strive for. I feel so lucky to commune with these incredible composers on a daily basis.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS FALL? I’ll be playing Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in Kinderhook, New York, on November 11. Violinist Helena Baillie used to sub with the Philharmonic, and conductor David Smith studied with Bernstein at Tanglewood, so it’s sort of a family affair.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Playing Mahler with Leonard Bernstein, and the Verdi Requiem with Riccardo Muti

IF YOU COULD PLAY ANOTHER INSTRUMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Cello or piano. And I’d love to play jazz.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO NOW? Wilhelm Kempff playing Schubert, Bill Evans, and Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick singing “White Rabbit”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? Read, dabble in languages, and play in my flower garden upstate. I’m also an avid hiker and birder and a beginning painter.

As of September 2018

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Upcoming 2019-2020 Performances
×

Location: (Directions)
Price Range:
Duration:

No upcoming solo or chamber events.

×

Purchase 3 or more eligible concerts & save.

About Create Your Own Series:

Pick three (or more) concerts and and enjoy exclusive Subscriber Benefits including unlimited free ticket exchange. Ideal for concertgoers who want the ultimate in flexibility and the benefits of being a subscriber.

Subscriber Benefits:

  • Free, easy ticket exchange (available online or by phone)
  • Save on subscription concerts all year long
  • Priority notice on special events

How it Works:

  1. Look for the Create Your Own Series icon CYO eligible icon next to a concert and add it to your cart.
  2. Simply follow the directions in the shopping cart and enter promo code CREATE3 at check out.
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