Introducing Rebecca Gu

1014b Photo RebeccaWhere are you from?


Are you a current Rice student? If not, what is your association with Rice?

I am a first year master’s student at Rice.

Why did you choose to play viola?

When I signed up for violin lessons, the only available teacher was a violist. At first I thought this would be an inconvenience, but my teacher taught every lesson on viola, and over time I fell in love with the sound of the instrument and the ability to express myself with it.

Where and with whom have you previously studied, and who is your current teacher?

I did my undergrad at the University of Maryland with Kathy Murdock. As a senior I spent a semester studying at the conservatory in Leipzig with Tatjana Masurenko. Currently I am a student of Ivo-Jan van der Werff.

What or whom are your most important musical influences?

My earliest musical influences were my middle school and 9th grade chorus teachers. They helped me make the initial connection from music as a set of symbols on the page to music as beautiful, organized sound and were also very positive role models as people. In addition to my regular lessons as a student, I’m also very much indebted to my viola lessons with Klaus Christa, Itamar Ringel, Tsuna Sakamoto, and Karin Brown. Additionally, I was deeply impacted by my time with the University of Maryland Symphony and Repertoire orchestras.

What are your favorite viola pieces and why?

I tend to get into pieces after hearing really inspiring or moving performances of them. Some of my favorites of the moment are the Passacaglia from Hindemith’s Sonata op. 11, no. 5, Stravinsky’s Elegy, Brahms’s songs for viola and voice, and basically everything from the Baroque and Classical eras.

What was one of your best musical experiences? 

In high school, my choir put on a show called “Night on Broadway,” which was basically a huge amalgamation of music, dance, song, and theater. The project required hours and hours of rehearsal after school, but through it I experienced the emotive power of very focused, intensive collaborative preparation, which is still an inspiration to me.

If you didn’t play the viola, what instrument would you play?

I would play the French horn or maybe the clarinet! Such a beautiful sound.

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