Introducing Vicki Powell!


What’s your name?

My name is Vicki Powell. I also go by Ping (my Chinese name) which when combined with my twin sister’s name, An, is [Ping-An] Peace.

Where are you from?

I was born in Chicago, but grew up in the beautiful city of Madison, WI, the breeding ground of many wonderful violists. There must be something in the water…

How did you come to the viola?

I started playing the violin when I was four years old. I later joined the Eleve Artet string quartet, which consisted of three violinists and one cellist. We took turns playing the viola part for several years, but eventually realized how silly and time-consuming it was to bring three violins and three violas on stage. I volunteered to be the permanent quartet violist, and began studying with Sally Chisholm, violist of the Pro Arte Quartet. I credit my passion for [chamber] music and my entire career as a violist to the ten incredible years I spent with that quartet.

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

I was a student at Juilliard from 2010-2012, where I studied with Misha Amory. I am currently living with Molly Carr, and we are embarking on the exciting journey of playing through all of the etude books in our apartment. I suppose that means I am still a student of Juilliard in some capacity.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

I probably shouldn’t be saying this on a blog heavily dominated by Juilliard folk, but my most memorable performance was playing Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Otto Werner Mueller. I have so much respect for Maestro Mueller, and he knew exactly how to mold the Curtis Symphony into the exhilarating creature that it is.

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

Schumann’s Marchenbilder was the first piece I ever played for viola, and I will always hold it most dear to my heart. There is something so magnificent about how Schumann was able to capture such fanciful beauty, melancholy, and brilliance in four short movements. The last movement in particular conveys, through sheer simplicity, an unbelievable depth of sadness with a glimmer hope, which never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

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

I want to play Mahler 5. Over and over and over and over again.

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

My viola was made by Stefan Valcuha, and was completed in July of 2012. Stefan knew I had been looking for a small but powerful viola, and took inspiration from a Gofriller with those very characteristics. He brought my baby out to me while I was in Marlboro, a week after it was strung up. It was love at first sight, and I will forever be thankful for the Valcuha genius!

Do you have any secret skills?

It’s not such a secret, nor is it a particularly desirable skill, but apparently I’m pretty good at terrifying people with my “Vicki stare”. I apologize to anyone that has crossed paths with my gaze… I’m currently working on the “Vicki smile”

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

Laze about in the sun. And eat good food.

Do you have a website?


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