Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013 - (Page 40)

exploring career options Musician interview by Amy Entwisle How did you come to your position at the new York Philharmonic? Cynthia Phelps Principal Viola, New York Philharmonic Orchestra Cynthia Phelps wears many hats: Orchestral musician. Solo artist. Mother. As principal viola of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Phelps has given recitals in the music capitals of Europe and the U.S. She has toured internationally and performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Boston Chamber Music Society. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Pro Musicis International Award. Her most recent album, for flute, viola, and harp, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Here, Phelps talks about what it takes to be a world-class musician. How did you become interested in music? i’m the fourth of five girls, all of whom played instruments. i wanted to play the violin, like two of my sisters, but found that i really didn’t enjoy the high pitch of the violin. When it was time to practice, i would ask to be put in the room next to my sister, the cellist, because i loved that low, dark sound. When i went to junior high, i switched to viola. following those early lessons, what was your music education like? in southern California, where i grew up, i was in the american Youth orchestra. i also played in a little string quartet and played chamber music with my sisters. i practiced every day after school, just like doing my homework. When i was young, 20 minutes was fine. it was the regularity that really counted. in high school, i auditioned for a community orchestra, the Pasadena symphony. it was a great pre-professional experience. everyone was much older than i was, but it helped me develop a love for the repertoire, and i got to play pieces i never would have otherwise. i was involved in my school orchestra, too. But i was also on the student council, and i was a cheerleader. i did “normal” activities in high school, but i had this other life going on at the same time. 40 imagine after graduating from the University of southern California, i was a substitute player with the Los angeles Philharmonic for about six months. i then spent a year as principal viola of the san diego symphony, followed by six years as principal viola of the minnesota orchestra, before being invited to audition for the new York Philharmonic in 1992. What does your work entail? With the new York Philharmonic, for 35 weeks of the year, i have 10 rehearsals a week, each two and a half hours long. i also have a dress rehearsal, and give four concerts per week. then of course, i have to practice—always. i do a tremendous amount of chamber music and solo work outside the Philharmonic. as a principal player, i’m expected to represent the highest of standards, so playing concerts in visible venues around the country—as well as abroad—is encouraged. right now, i’m soloing with the santa Barbara symphony with my colleague glenn dicterow, who is concertmaster of the new York Philharmonic. We’re playing mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, which is a beautiful duo concerto for violin, viola, and orchestra. We’ll have two performances. i’m going to teach a master class, and then glenn and i are giving a lecture demonstration to some of the patrons, talking about mozart. We rely tremendously on patron support, so educating patrons is important. i travel at least six weeks a year with the Philharmonic. then, especially during summer, i play at many chamber music festivals. all together, i travel about four months out of the year. the Philharmonic has a 52-week season, and i’m fortunate to have as my assistant an extremely gifted violist who takes over all of my principal duties when i’m playing elsewhere. What qualities does one need to be successful in a career like yours? it takes single-minded focus and drive. it takes love and passion so that the focus and drive and hard work become part of the relationship to music. it’s a wonderful way to make a living, but it’s very difficult, too. Being a professional musician is very competitive. it helps to have an early start. mar/apr 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013
Big Picture
In My Own Words
Music to My Ears
Together as One
Circle of Inspiration
Six Strings and a Dream
In Pursuit of Joy
Jazz Studies, Improvised
Music in College
From the Great Wall to the Golden Gate
Sines and Wonders
Selected Opportunities & Resources
My Journey Through the College Admissions Process
How It Feels to Run
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - March/April 2013