Viola students in the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra

Matthew MichelicThe viola studio at Lawrence provides a multitude of performing opportunities in a challenging yet supportive atmosphere. The collegiality and esprit de corps of the viola studio creates a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere for violists regardless of their degree pursuit.

All violists audition for placement with a teacher, and all music majors study with full-time Conservatory faculty. Although most Lawrence violists pursue the Bachelor of Music in Performance, Education or Theory/Composition, others maintain a high level of engagement with the studio and Conservatory offerings while pursuing the Bachelor of Arts degree. Some violists combine a degree in music with a BA degree in the Five-Year Double Degree program; in recent years, violists have pursued majors in biochemistry, biology, English, environmental studies, German, history, mathematics, religious studies and Spanish. Lawrence faculty delight in helping students realize and develop cross-disciplinary connections, and seek to help each student integrate all aspects of their musical training into their performances.

All violists participate in the weekly viola studio class, focused on performances by members of the studio and student-led discussion related to public performance.

First-year violists also participate in the weekly viola techniques class. These sessions review the pedagogical approaches used for both foundational work and advanced techniques and support the work done in individual lessons. The techniques class also gives students the opportunity to critically assess their own development and helps prepare them as teachers. After initial coursework, opportunities to develop pedagogical skills include guided teaching through the Lawrence Academy of Music and the Lawrence University String Project, and for all violists, membership in the Lawrence chapter of the American String Teachers Association is highly encouraged.

Lawrence faculty typically support the activities of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra by offering sectional rehearsals; some offer courses or independent study in orchestral literature and audition preparation for qualified students. The chamber music repertoire is a rich and rewarding area of emphasis for violists. Viola faculty regularly coach chamber music and seek to incorporate the chamber music repertoire as pedagogical material for music majors.

Lawrence faculty encourage the practice of a healthy lifestyle, and while playing, balanced and efficient movement that empowers each student to maximize their potential as an artist and performer. Course work or independent study with Lawrence faculty well versed in the Alexander Technique is encouraged. Violists also have ample opportunity to develop their ability to improvise and understand contemporary musical idioms by participating in the Improvisation Group of Lawrence University (IGLU), various jazz ensembles and New Music at Lawrence.

Lawrence’s Own Viola Ensemble(LOVE) performs repertoire spanning several centuries both on and off campus, and is particularly active during viola studio retreats in Appleton or at our northern campus Bjorklunden. Members of the viola studio frequently perform in master classes given by visiting artist/teachers of the viola; these include members of major orchestras, members of world-renowned chamber ensembles such as the Guarneri, Ebene and Vermeer quartets and acclaimed teachers such as Michael Kimber, Christine Rutledge and Mimi Zweig.

While at Lawrence some violists elect to spend a term of study off campus; recently a number of music majors have studied with outstanding teachers in London and Vienna, but other destinations for violists include Paris, Buenos Aires and Salamanca, Spain.

In developing their professional performing careers and as their schedules have allowed, some Lawrence violists have performed with the Green Bay, Fox Valley and Oshkosh Symphony orchestras. LU violists go on to a variety of career and degree pursuits. These include performing in prestigious professional orchestras and chamber ensembles and teaching positions in universities, community music schools and public schools across the United States and abroad.

Lawrence violists have been accepted to study at some of the top graduate programs in music. These include the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, the Juilliard School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the New England Conservatory and Rice University.

Viola ensemble rehearsing