Introducing Benjamin Zannoni!


What’s your name?

Benjamin Zannoni, but people just call me Ben.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Houston, and primarily grew up in Houston. But, I did live in Downingtown Pennsylvania for a few years when I was in elementary school, before going right back to Houston.

How did you come to the viola?

In 6th grade my violin teacher, Judy Offman, recommended I learn how to play the viola. This may have been due to my abnormal height for a 6th grader, but I always remember her having such a passion for the viola and for her students to learn how to play the viola along with the violin. It was not until my first youth symphony rehearsal, however, where I really made the switch into becoming a violist. Upon arriving at the rehearsal I found myself seated in the last chair of the second violins, who at first glance looked like a horde of deranged monkeys flailing about. As I started to unpack a lady stood up on the podium and yelled “Do any of the violinist know how to play viola? If, so we would be happy to have you switch!” I jumped up at the first thought of getting out of the chaos, and remember sitting down the first stand of violist, where I played the rest of the rehearsal on my brand new viola that I had no idea how to read the music for. From then on, since I had decided to play the viola in orchestra I began to love the sound and the people that played the instrument.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I’m 2nd year Undergrad, and I study with Heidi Castleman and Robert Vernon.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

Liebermann Sonata

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I can’t really choose one piece, but I really wish I could play jazz piano.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

Paul Knorr from 1939, I bought it in the summer of 2011.


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