Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate more and more the great variety of colors I’m able to produce on both of my Douglas Cox violas. I discovered the first one after many months of trying some very fine instruments in shops in and around Boston. I’d just about set my heart on one, but decided it might be worth exploring outside Massachusetts. The first place I visited was Doug’s studio and the first scale I played on the first viola I picked up was absolutely magic! I was as much impressed by Doug’s friendliness and dedication to his craft as I was by the quality of his instruments. -- Ken Allen
Violist Ken Allen is a founding member of Trio Notturno, as well as a member of the American String Teachers Association, American Viola Society, Boston Musicians' Association, and Early Music America. Ken is an active chamber and orchestral musician and has performed with many ensembles in the Greater Boston area and beyond, including: the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Boston New Music Initiative, Boston Opera Collaborative, Cape Symphony, Commonwealth Lyric Theater, Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, Lexington Symphony, Lowell House Opera, Mercury Orchestra, MetroWest Opera, MIT Summer Philharmonic Orchestra, New England Philharmonic, New England Repertory Orchestra, Opera Brittenica, and Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also a classically trained pianist.
After completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in English at UNC-Chapel Hill and at Harvard and then working at the Boston College Law Library, Ken earned his Master of Music degree in Viola Performance from the Boston Conservatory, where his viola teachers were Lila Brown and Leonard Matczynski. He also studied string pedagogy with Rictor Noren and was coached in chamber ensembles by Lynn Chang and Ina Zdorovetchi at the Boston Conservatory. He has performed in master classes for Elizabeth Blumenstock, Sheila Browne, Helen Callus, Levon Chilingirian, Gabriela Diaz, Dr. Susan Dubois, John Harbison, the Jupiter String Quartet, Michelle LaCourse, Karl Paulnack, and Karen Ritscher.
Upcoming performances and more about Ken are on his new website: allenviola.com
Photo © Dana Muldoon 2011
I love Doug’s instruments, and Doug too! I particularly love my #863 and my #698 viola, but am happy to play any of Doug’s violins any time I get a chance. -- Phil Bloch
Philip Bloch has been playing music for nearly half a century, primarily violin, guitar and viola. He insisted on violin lessons at age 5, starting on a 1/4-size violin. Phil grew up playing music professionally with his family, and listening to records from Jack Teagarten to Benny Goodman, Sam Hinton to Pete Seeger, and Mozart to Odetta; seeing and hearing Doc Watson was a life-changing experience at 11 years old.
Music study and performance continued through school: All-State Orchestra, jazz and rock bands, Summer String Camp, family farm string band, and lots of Bluegrass. Phil transcribed Stephane Grappelli's Minor Swing during high school, and continued to study composition and improvisation in College. Phil received his B.A. in Music from Yale University in 1980. He has continued to play professionally in many genres including bluegrass, gypsy jazz, orchestra and chamber music.
Phil's teaching experience includes individual and ensemble classes at the Open Music Collective, Putney School, and private instruction. He loves to teach songwriting and arrangement, jazz improvisation, and bluegrass ensemble.
Phil Bloch, on stage at Brattleboro's Latchis Theatre with Moonlight Davis
Your viola remains a source of great joy to me. -- Zachary Evans
Like many violists, I started out on the violin; I took up the viola the summer before high school, but at first only to play in orchestral and chamber groups. As high school progressed, I came to the conclusion that I was better suited for viola than the violin, and so decided to audition for conservatories on the former. My viola at the time actually belonged to my violin teacher; my Doug Cox viola was the first I actually purchased.
I entered Oberlin Conservatory, but midway through my second year I switched to the College and became a classics major, learning and reading Homer in ancient Greek. I kept playing the viola and taking private lessons, while also taking advantage of various world music classes on offer. I learned some of the rhythms of Arabic percussion, Brazilian samba, and Indian classical music, participated in one of two Javanese gamelan ensembles, and played viola for a semester in the college's Balkan Music Ensemble.
After finishing my degree, I immigrated to Israel and signed up for a year and a half of volunteer service, during which I learned Hebrew and went to work in COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), which is the military administration in charge of the West Bank and the border crossings into Gaza. My base was just outside the city of Jericho, near the Dead Sea and the spot on the Jordan River at which Jesus was baptized. I could only play viola on weekends at home on my kibbutz, but play I did, and somehow I managed to avoid going rusty during my service At the end of my service, I saw an opening for auditions at the Israel Chamber Orchestra based in Jaffa, took the chance, and got to play in some performances with them. I might try to make my living this way, but haven't come to a conclusion just yet.
While in college, I began searching for a viola of my own. My uncle suggested I go to Doug Cox to see if he had something I might like, and as it turned out, my future viola was there waiting for me. It was different from the other violas I had tried; it seemed that, in addition to a well-rounded, sweet and complex sound, it also had a sweet character, sort of like an old friend one can always strike up a conversation with. I've grown very attached to it, and it has remained a source of great joy to me throughout my acclimation to my new home.
The viola really changed the way I approached and performed the Clarke Sonata. It responds with such ease and has such a clear sound. I wanted to let you know that I was accepted to the Sarasota Music festival to study with Kim Kashkashian, Robert Vernon, James Dunham and Barbara Westphal! It would have never happened without this instrument! -- Charlie Galante
Hailed as “…truly illuminating and elegant…”(Herald Tribune), Violist Charles Galante began his studies at the age of 9 in his hometown of Northport, New York. He continued his studies at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College where he studied with Patinka Kopec and Tali Kravitz. Currently, Charlie is a sophomore at the Juilliard School where he studies with Misha Amory.
As an avid chamber musician, Charles has enjoyed being coached by members of the Guarneri, Emerson, Cleveland, Ying, Fine Arts, Dover, Michelangelo and Bryant Park Quartets. He has had performances broadcast live on WSMR and WQXR young artists showcase. During past summers Charles has attended the Sarasota Music Festival, Heifetz Institute, Sejong International Music festival at the Curtis Institute and the Manhattan in the Mountains. At the Heifetz Institute he was chosen to perform on the coveted Celebrity Series and has had the opportunity of performing with James Dunham, Elmar Oliviera, Antonio Lysy and Charles Wetherbee. Currently, Charles tours the East Coast as a member of “Heifetz on Tour” and will be collaborating with the Baltimore Symphony/coaching members of the Baltimore Youth Symphony in the upcoming season.
Praised for performing with “..absolute beauty, musicianship and integrity..” (yourobservor.com), Charles is also an accomplished orchestral musician, serving as principle of the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Philharmonic, Long Island Youth Orchestra, and Heifetz Big Band among many others and as Assistant Principle of the Eastman Philharmonia/Opera. Charles has performed in master classes for Misha Amory, Hsin-Yun Huang, Kim Kashkashian, James Dunham, Barbara Westphal, Martha Katz, Robert Vernon, Carol Rodland, Lawrence Dutton, Karen Dreyfus, Karen Ritscher and Peter Serkin. He has performed in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and Tilles Center, to Oheka Castle as well as soloist with the Northport Symphony.
He plays on a viola made by Douglas Cox, on generous loan from the Virtu Foundation and is a recipient of a C. & H. Lewine Scholarship at The Juilliard School.
Charlie loves baseball, has a dog named Max, and says that his grandma makes the best red sauce/pasta on the planet.
Photo © Zoot Shoot Photographers
Thank you again for this beautiful instrument! I just finished a 2-week workshop with the Portland String Quartet and everyone there loved my viola. It has an amazing tone and blends well with the other instruments in my quartet. I have so much fun playing the viola, and it is really helping me further my music career. Thank you! -- Helen Gray-Bauer
Helen has loved playing a Douglas Cox instrument for nearly half of her musical career. Having played viola since the age of seven she has studied both classical and bluegrass fiddle music. Helen joined the Portland Youth Ensembles when she was nine years old, and is currently the principal violist of the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra for the third year. She has also played with the Maine All-State Honors Orchestra and the All-Eastern Honors Orchestra. Although Helen enjoys playing in an orchestral setting, she favors chamber music. She has been playing in various chamber groups through the Portland Conservatory of Music and the Portland String Quartet’s Summer Workshops for several years.
Helen is studying music and neuroscience at Skidmore College to become a Music Therapist, with a focus on researching the effects of music on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Helen was very inspired by her instrument’s history. Doug explained that the viola’s previous owner, Marylou Speaker Churchill for whom it was made, was a close friend of his who played violin with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After her passing, her family returned it to Doug hopeful that he would find a young musician to carry on her legacy of inspiring the next music generation. Helen is very honored and excited to have the opportunity to play such a wonderful instrument.
While she very much enjoys music, Helen also likes to participate in sports. She is a tri-varsity athlete playing soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. She is also the leader of the Community Service activity at school.
National Anthem - Photo © Brian Beard, Creative Images Photography
I played my Masters recital on the ‘new’ viola and was overwhelmed with positive reactions from my friends and colleagues. I couldn’t be happier. -- Anna Griffis
Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, violist and violinist Anna Griffis performs as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the United States and abroad. She made her solo concerto debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16, and was the second prize winner in the 2008 Van Rooy Solo Competition.
Anna toured the Eastern U.S. and Turkey with the Anatolian Trio, a group focused on bringing contemporary Turkish works to American audiences and vice versa, and recently co-founded Trio Speranza, based in Chicago and Boston, and Imperfect Pearl, based in Austin, TX.
She has performed under the baton of Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Stéphane Denève, Simon Carrington, and Andrew Parrott, and is principal viola with Grand Harmonie and the New Bedford Symphony.
Equally at home on both modern and historical instruments, she plays in and around Boston with the Marsh Chapel Collegium, Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium, Cambridge Concentus, Les Bostonades, Musical Offering, Symphony New Hampshire, Orchestra of Indian Hill, and the Cape Cod Symphony and travels regularly to Austin, TX to play with Texas Early Music Project, La Follia Austin Baroque, and the St. Cecilia Music Series. Anna attended the Baroque Performance Instiute at Oberlin, Tafelmusik Summer Institute, Vancouver Early Music, Amherst Early Music, The National Orchestral Institute, Garth Newel Music Center and was a 2013 Tanglewood Music Center Fellow.
Anna studied at Lawrence University and The Hartt School of Music and received her Masters and Diploma from Boston University under the tutelage of Michelle LaCourse. In addition to her performing career, Anna is on Faculty at the Dana Hall School of Music and the Canton Public Schools Encore Program and is the Coordinator of Music Public Relations and Events for the Tufts University Music Department.
In 2006, I had been looking for a new viola for over three years and had nearly given up hope that I would ever find an instrument I wanted to buy, when a colleague who had spent the summer at Marlboro suggested that I give Doug a call. When Doug sent me this viola, I knew my search was over. My instrument has a nearly ideal blend of the warmth and richness everyone wants in the viola sound, with enough edge to be heard in an ensemble. -- William Johnston
William Johnston leads a varied career as a violist and educator based in Atlanta. Praised for his "richly lyrical tone and expressive playing" (ArtsATL.com), he has appeared throughout the country in solo and chamber music performances, including recent appearances with the ensembles Fringe Atlanta and Sonic Generator. William is in demand as an orchestral musician, serving as principal violist of The Atlanta Opera and performing with numerous orchestras in the southeast. He has performed at many summer festivals, including Aspen, Kent/Blossom, and Sarasota, and is currently principal violist of the Utah Festival Opera.
William is equally committed to music education. He is a registered Suzuki teacher, and completed long-term teacher training in books 1-4 with Kimberly Meier-Sims at the Cleveland Institute of Music. William has presented masterclasses at colleges and universities, including Florida Southern College, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Valdosta State University. He currently maintains a private studio of children and adults, and is an active clinician in the Atlanta area.
William is a native of Sarasota, Florida and graduated from Pine View School in Osprey. Beginning music lessons with the piano at age four, he later studied the viola with Dorothy Stahler, Alison Heydt, Victoria Chiang, James Dunham, and Robert Vernon. He is a graduate of the Peabody Institute and Rice University, and is the first violist to receive the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Visit William online at www.williamjohnston.info.
Photo © Jesse Kramer
I love the warm, deep sound the viola can produce with such little effort. -- Tiffany Laraia
Tiffany Laraia is violist from New Jersey who began her studies with Byrnina Socolofsky. In 2011-2012 she studied with Marvin Moon of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She has performed in Temple Music Prep’s Baroque Players Orchestra, Chamber Players Orchestra and Settlement Music School’s Trowbridge Orchestra with scholarship as principal. Tiffany was the recipient of the Advanced Study Scholarship at Settlement Music School playing in the Braverman Quartet under the direction of Sid Curtiss. This past year she was principal violist of the Temple Music Prep Youth Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Luis Biava.
Tiffany has appeared on NPR’s radio show From the Top as a member of the Temple Music Prep Honors Quartet, was also a semi-finalist in the junior division of the 2012 Sphinx Competition and won the Eastern Music Festival concerto competition this past summer. Tiffany currently studies at the Juilliard School studying with professor Toby Appel.
Tiffany plays on Douglas Cox's viola Opus 711, through a Sphinx Music Organization scholarship.
After years searching for a small viola with a fabulous dark sound appropriate for solo performance, I have found Doug Cox's Guarnarius model that projects the perfect antique sound. Everyone who hears me play it falls in love with this instrument. -- Carol Lieberman
Carol Lieberman is the proud owner of two instruments made by Douglas Cox: one of his first Baroque Violins, and a modern Viola, which she purchased in February of 2012. Based on a Joseph Guarnerius 1743 “del Gesù”, this Viola has its characteristic dark and mellow sound that carries so beautifully in a concert hall. It is a first rate solo instrument, and conveys that unmistakable Guarnerius quality. As an added bonus, the relatively small size of this Viola makes it the perfect instrument for a violinist to play.
Associate Professor of music at College of the Holy Cross, and Director of the Holy Cross Chamber Players, Carol Lieberman is one of America’s leading exponents of Baroque violin performance as well as violin repertoire from the 19th to the 21st centuries. She has performed with harpsichordist Mark Kroll for forty years, and they have given recitals of the complete Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord of J.S. Bach in Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, Boston and San Francisco. Her recordings have received the highest critical acclaim, and include the J. S. Bach Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord, a world premiere album of sonatas by Simon LeDuc, an album of sonatas of C.P.E. Bach and J.C. Bach, CDs of Schubert’s Three Sonatinas for Violin and Fortepiano andErno Dohnanyi’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, Serenade for String Trio, and second Quintet for Piano and Strings. Her recordings of contemporary repertoire includeWalter Piston’s Sonatina, Lester Trimble’s Canterbury Tales, Alan Hovhaness’s Duo, Elliott Carter's Riconoscenza, and a CD issued by Centaur Records of Olivier Messiaen’s, Quartet for the End of Time. Her recordings are also available for purchase and listening on iTunes.
Carol Lieberman frequently lectures on violin performance practice, including vibrato and bow technique. She has given master classes in Poland, Israel, France and England, and recently gave a lecture-recital entitled “Vibrato in the Franco-Belgian School from G.B. Viotti to E. Ysaye” in La Spezia, Italy.
After our quartet concerts the comment that I always get is 'what a deep and warm sound that viola has'. -- Jorge Martínez Rios
Born in Torreón, México, Jorge Martínez Rios studied viola at the Conservatorio de las Rosas, where he graduated with honors under the tutelage of professor Gela Dubrova.
Mr. Martínez has performed across the US and Mexico in some of the most prestigious concert venues, such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Meany Hall's World Series in Seattle, Chicago Center for the Arts, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, just to mention a few.
He has been principal and assistant principal viola for different orchestras in Mexico and the US, like the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, the Camerata de Coahuila, the Orquesta de Cámara de Michoacán, the Western Piedmont Symphony and the Las Cruces Symphony.
Most recently, Mr. Martínez was invited by CONACULTA (the National Council for Culture and Art in Mexico) to record chamber works of José Pablo Moncayo, including a string trio and the sonata for viola and piano with acclaimed Mexican pianist Guadalupe Parrondo. This recording was made to celebrate the composer's 100th anniversary. He has also recorded music by Mexican composer Germán Romero under the Quindecim recording label; Angelwings, a CD of music by contemporary composers from Ohio; and the Francisco Mignone Seresta for double quartet in collaboration with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano for the Sono Luminus label.
Currently, Mr. Martinez is Assistant Professor of Viola at New Mexico State University and keeps a busy schedule touring and teaching. He is blessed to live eight months in the US and four months in México with his wife Verónica, his two beautiful children, Valeria and David, and Clay, a black and white rescue cat.
Jorge Martínez Rio with Viola #500
My Cox instruments are so rewarding to play. I've had many compliments on their sound and appearance. I'm constantly finding inspiring new things I'm able to do and relishing how I'm growing as a musician through their use. They are also beautiful objects in themselves and I often find myself admiring the carving or the varnish during long rests. -- Bob McGuigan
Bob is an amateur violinist and violist. He is a (semi) retired mathematics professor, having taught for over 40 years in the Massachusetts public higher education system. His life as a musician started with violin lessons at age nine with the Chicago-area violin pedagogue Samuel Barbakoff. He quit at age 13 for reasons now unknown, but came back to playing 30 years later. In 1992, at age 50, having experienced the joy of playing chamber music and wanting to expand his opportunities, he decided to give himself a viola as a birthday present. A conversation with James Buswell at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival sent him to Doug Cox with the result that Bob became the proud owner of a Cox viola, Opus 154, a 16.5” personal model inspired by Maggini. When Bob reached age 65, retired from full time teaching, he fulfilled a dream and acquired a Cox violin, Opus 557, a copy of the 1693 “Harrison” Stradivarius violin.
Bob is very active in the amateur music scene in the Connecticut Valley. He plays regularly in the Friends of Music at Guilford Labor Day Festival Orchestra, is a 20 year veteran member of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra, currently in the viola section, and was for many years in the Valley Light Opera Orchestra in Amherst. He plays violin or viola in three different string quartets and is a frequent participant in the annual string quartet conference led by the Manhattan String Quartet at Colgate University.
Bob lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts with his wife, the pianist Julia Bady, who writes:
My husband purchased a violin from Doug Cox 3 years ago. Thank you, Doug! Bob has been practicing more than ever before and my ears and heart are happy. This instrument inspires Bob to play more because it gives so much back. I have been enjoying its beautiful and vibrant tone. And it gives me great pleasure to hear my husband joyfully making music. -- Julia Bady, concert pianist
Bob McGuigan with 557 & 154
I absolutely adore my Cox viola. It is literally perfect in every way. It was definitely a “love at first sound” experience. While I was in high school, my viola teacher's mother was looking to sell her Cox viola. I tried it and instantly knew I had to have it. My Cox viola has been the best purchase I have ever made, hands down! When the day came that my viola needed repairs, Douglas Cox made the process painless, and I had the great opportunity to try out another Cox viola. Over the years, I have deeply bonded with my viola, and I feel honored to own such a marvelous instrument.
I would recommend Douglas Cox's instruments to anyone looking to buy a superior, beautiful instrument. -- Blakeley Menghini
Recognized as a “naturally gifted musician,” violist Blakeley Menghini is gaining attention for her artistry as a chamber musician, orchestral player, recording artist, and pedagogue.
Blakeley currently resides in Green Bay, WI as the violist in the Griffon String Quartet. In residence with Midsummer's Music in Door County, WI, the Griffon provides northeast Wisconsin with educational and community-embedded programs and performances. Other previous chamber ensemble affiliations include Arco Duo with harpist Brittany Schultz and the acclaimed Hunt Quartet at UW-Madison, where she was featured in formal and educational concerts through the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Up Close and Musical program. Her festival appearances include the Arianna Chamber Music Festival, the Northern Lights Chamber Music Festival, the LunArt Festival, and the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. She has appeared with the Chamber Orchestra of Northern Illinois, Kishwaukee Symphony, Oshkosh Symphony, LaCrosse Symphony, Fox Valley Symphony, and Madison Symphony.
A dedicated music educator, she maintains a private studio and has served as adjunct professor of viola and violin at Beloit College and adjunct professor of violin and viola at Greenville University, where she directed the school’s chamber orchestra. Menghini has written and taught a music appreciation curriculum for the Lahr-Well Academy, a private K-12 school in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Winner of the Edda Valborg Ofstie Memorial Music Award, Menghini is a 2018 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music, where she received her Doctorate in Musical Arts and studied viola with Sally Chisholm. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Greenville University, where she studied with Victoria Voumard, and a Masters of Music and Performer’s Certificate from Northern Illinois University, studying with Tony Devroye. Menghini has performed in master classes with Alban Gerhardt, Nobuko Imai, Laurie Smukler, and the St. Lawrence and Arianna Quartets. Media appearances include WORT Radio, WBDK Radio, and Green Bay’s CBS Local 5 TV. Her chapter "Rethinking Education: The Four Pillars of Education in the Suzuki Studio" will be published by Indiana University Press in a book entitled Humane Music Education for the Common Good in 2020.
The Douglas Cox viola that I've been playing on for the last year is quite an amazing instrument. The sound is very responsive and has a wide range of colors. It projects well and is malleable in any sort of environment, whether a large or small hall, wet or dry, reverberant or acoustically dead. The sound is easy to adjust. This is important when switching from solo to chamber music to orchestra playing, switching from Bach to Schnittke. Each requires a certain style of maneuverability - never a problem with this viola. -- Aaron Mossburg
Aaron Mossburg, violist, has been described as having a "fine, warm sound" (Cleveland Classical) and "much personality and a clear command" (Sarasota Herald Tribune). A native of rural Indiana, Aaron is currently a senior at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studies viola with Peter Slowik.
In November of 2011, Aaron gave his solo Carnegie Hall debut, which was sponsored by the Netherlands American Community Trust. At the age of 16, Aaron soloed with the Indianapolis Symphony as well as with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic on several occasions. Aaron has performed in other venues such as the Neue Gallery of Art in New York City and the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia. At Oberlin, he has participated on numerous occasions in the Danenberg Honors Recital, both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. In the past couple of years, Aaron has also performed at Oberlin’s “Music at Oakton” concert series in the Washington D.C. area. In April 2012 he was first prize winner in the senior division of the Ohio Viola Society Competition.
During his sophomore year at Oberlin, Aaron was asked to serve as principal viola on the Oberlin Orchestra Asia Tour, where they performed throughout China’s most prestigious concert halls, as well as the Esplanade in Singapore. He has served as principal viola in orchestras such as the Honors Orchestra of America, Indianapolis Symphony’s Side-By-Side Program, Oberlin Symphony and Opera Orchestras, New World Youth Symphony, and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Youth Symphony. Aaron frequently substitutes with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Canton Symphony, and the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida.
In 2008, Aaron was selected to take part in the Perlman Music Program, founded by Itzhak Perlman and his wife, Toby. He has been very fortunate in recent years to have studied and collaborated with such teachers and artists as Itzhak Perlman, Heidi Castleman, Paul Katz, Donald Weilerstein, and Merry Peckham. Aaron has been a participant at the Sarasota Music Festival in Sarasota, Florida, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Blue Hill, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan. Other past teachers and instructors include: Kim Kashkashian, Robert Vernon, James Dunham, Carol Rodland, Jeffrey Irvine, Barbara Westphal, Michael Isaac Strauss, Ronald Copes, Pamela Frank, Mark Sokol, Robert Levine, members of the Juilliard String Quartet, Cleveland Quartet, Takacs Quartet, Cavani String Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, Pacifica Quartet, St. Petersburg Quartet, and the Jasper Quartet.
Thank you so much for making such beautiful violas. I’m in love with my new viola. In Turkish we compliment people who create anything with their hands by saying, “ellerine saglik” which translates as “health to your hands” so you continue making more. -- Gizem Yücel
Gizem Yücel is a versatile concert violist equally at home in many genres from jazz, rock, experimental to classical. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in viola performance from Hacettepe University State Conservatory and Bilkent University in her hometown of Ankara, Turkey. After moving to the States she received her artist diploma in viola performance from the State University of New York, Purchase College in New York and her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a cognate in piano and conducting.
Gizem was a member of the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, and Bilkent Young Virtuoso in Ankara, Turkey. She has also been well-received internationally at such notable orchestral, chamber and solo music festivals as the Ayvalık festival in Turkey, Şimdi Now Festival in Belgium and Germany, Łańcut Festival in Poland, Musica en Compostela in Spain, and Festival Del Sole Napa Valley, the Texas Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Hot Spring music festivals in the U.S. during which Gizem has collaborated with numerous esteemed musicians. Her performance credits also include a European tour with renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say and a tour with the legendary rock sensation Jethro Tull. She has also shared the stage with Rod Steward and her band opened for Santigold at an MTV production. Gizem has recorded with many great musicians from various genres such as jazz bassist Eric Revis, jazz pianist Antonio Truyols, classical pianists İdil Biret, Jean-Philippe Collard and folk-pop sensation Pearl and the Beard. She played live on TRT (Turkish Radio Television) radio made weekly appearances on Turkish late night television. Her SUNY quartet's recording has aired on the radio station WQXR NYC's "The Young Artists Of The Hour".
She now plays with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dmitry Sitkovetsky in North Carolina and as principal/assistant principal viola in the Chelsea Symphony in NYC. She performs regularly in the Greensboro Symphony Chamber Series with guest artists as well as with her own chamber groups; Imaginary Friends Ensemble, her duo "Okyanus" with partner/pianist Antonio Truyols and New Yorker Ensemble with Emir Gamsizoglu. She teaches violin and conducts the orchestra at the Harmony Program in NYC, an organization inspired by El Sistema. Gizem's primary viola teachers include Betil Başeğmezler, Cavid Cafer, Scott Rawls and Ira Weller.
Visit her website at gizemyucelmusic.com/.
Photo by Jacqui Haggerty
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