Q&A with Rebekah Newman

The Charlotte Symphony's newest member stops in for a chat
Courtesy, Rebekah Newman

Rebekah Newman is the Charlotte Symphony's newest member and its principal violist. When the Charlotte newcomer isn't playing with the orchestra, you might find her at Dean & Deluca, Amelie's, or salsa dancing. On Dec 14, you'll find her with the rest of the symphony — and the Oratorio Singers — performing the majestic Messiah. Details here.

Charlotte magazine: What led you to Charlotte?

Rebekah Newman: When I saw that the Charlotte Symphony was holding a principal viola audition, I didn't hesitate sending my resume in. I've heard great things about the city, and the more I learned about the orchestra the more I wanted to work here.

CM: Where were you prior to moving to Charlotte?

RN: I played with the Minnesota Orchestra for the 2010/2011 season.

CM: Where are you from originally? How old were you when you started playing music?

RN: I am originally from Marquette, Michigan which is in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. There weren't many teachers in the area, so for my last two years of high school, my mom and I drove down to Chicago every other week for my hour and a half lesson with Hilel Kagan, the former principal second violinist of the Chicago Lyric Opera. I started playing the violin at age seven when my family lived in Rapid City, South Dakota. I was part of the Suzuki program there with my younger brother. I didn't fully switch to viola until my junior year of college at the Cleveland Institute of Music, under the tutelage of Mark Jackobs.

CM: What's it like working with Christopher Warren-Green, the man who conducted the wedding of the century?

RN: I think Maestro Warren-Green has a lot to offer this orchestra! It is wonderful to be conducted by such a renowned violinist with such a full playing career as concertmaster. There is a real understanding of how an orchestra works from the inside that not many conductors have.

CM: What 2012 CSO concerts are you most excited about? Why?

RN: I am very much looking forward to playing Don Juan, by Strauss … It has become one of my favorite pieces over many years of practicing the excerpts for auditions.

CM: What's your impression of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center? What are your impressions of Charlotte? Do you have any favorite hangouts yet?

RN: When I walked into the Belk Theater for the first time. I was quite impressed. It is a beautiful, impressive-looking hall. We are very fortunate to be able to play the majority of our concerts there. I definitely have some favorite places in Charlotte. Dean & Deluca has become a staple for me. Amelie's is another favorite, and I've really enjoyed the Italian restaurants I've gone to – Luce, Coco and Toscana. I am also very impressed with the beautiful parks in Charlotte. I have enjoyed walking and driving around most of them.

CM: When you're not playing in the CSO, what do you do for fun?

RN: When I was 13, my mom and I went to a Celtic festival called Gaelic Roots in Boston and got hooked on the music, culture, and the accent. I am a bit Irish, so I guess it runs in my blood. I still play Celtic fiddle quite often and am looking for a good jam session here in Charlotte to attend. I also love Bluegrass and am looking forward to hearing more … I also love salsa dancing and have been seeking out the popular places in town.

CM: What's in heavy rotation on your iPod now?

RN: Lately I've been hungry for chamber music. I've been listening to a lot of Brahms quartets, piano quartets and quintets. Tchaikovsky's Souvenier de Florance is definitely a favorite. Whenever I'm not listening to classical music, I will put on the old jazz classics like Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Sinatra. I'm also a huge fan of Pink Martini, Punch Brothers, and the new album “Goat Rodeo.”  

CM: What's one fun fact about you?

RN: I grew up riding Western, and I miss it very much. I'm looking to find somewhere in the area to start riding again.

Categories: Arts + Culture, Revue