Principal ViolaTracye Polson and Kevin Clair Sponsorship
Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina Member: 2018
What do you want patrons of the Symphony to know about you?
I’m very excited to join a growing orchestra that has a dual commitment to artistic growth and sharing the joy and beauty of music with the broader community.
Do you have any pre-concert rituals or routines?
I don’t have any specific pre-concert routines, but I make sure to eat something before I go on-stage. The energy of a concert can be overwhelming on an empty stomach!
What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional musician?
I am very interested in social justice and politics, so I imagine if I didn’t play music I’d enjoy being a social worker, legal aid attorney, or doing work for a non-profit.
What teacher, mentor or other influencer inspired you the most?
My grad school teacher, Kim Kashkashian, has been a constant source of inspiration. When I was a teenager I would listen to her recordings quite often, and discovered much of the repertoire I still cherish by listening to her playing. She is a tremendously insightful and generous teacher, always challenging her students to search for the essential character and meaning of the music. She also insists that we examine the ways our physical approach to the instrument limits our ability to express the emotional content of the music. Additional mentors include violinists Itzhak Perlman, Donald Weilerstein, violists Jessica Bodner, Maria Lambros, Roger Tapping, and cellists Natasha Brofsky, Laurence Lesser, Merry Peckham, and pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to read contemporary literature, both fiction and non-fiction. Joyce Carol Oates and Naomi Klein are two of my favorite authors. I enjoy vegan baking, especially around the holidays when I can share with family and friends.
What has been your favorite moment on stage?
A few seasons ago I performed Dvorak’s Viola Quintet in Boston with two of my mentors. I was completely humbled and starstruck and learned so much in the rehearsal and performance process. The concert was especially meaningful because in lieu of purchasing tickets, the audience gave donations that went directly to the Greater Boston Food Bank. It was incredible to make such joyful music and know that many food-insecure families could have meals as a result of the generosity of the audience.
Who is your favorite composer?
My favorite composer changes quite frequently, depending on what incredible pieces I’m learning at the moment. Currently, Mozart is my favorite!
I attended Oberlin College-Conservatory for my Bachelor’s Degree and graduated in 2012 after studying with Peter Slowik, and I attended New England Conservatory for my Master’s Degree and graduated in 2014 after working with Kim Kashkashian.