Introducing Teddy Schenkman

Teddy SchenkmanWhere are you from?

I’m originally from Durham, NC, but I moved to Marshfield, WI, when I was nine.

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

I am currently a sophomore at Rice.

Why did you choose to play viola?

Like many others, I started on violin—when I was four. When I was ten, my school orchestra needed more violists, therefore I started playing then. My violin teacher at the time was primarily a violist, so I started bringing my viola to lessons. I enjoyed it so much that pretty soon it was my main instrument!

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

I started on violin with Wilinda Atchley in a Suzuki program in Raleigh, NC. When I moved to Wisconsin, I began studying with Mr. David Becker at the Aber Suzuki Center in Stevens Point, WI. I now study with Professor James Dunham.

What or whom are your most important musical influences?

My uncle, Byron Schenkman, is a big inspiration to me. He is a pianist/harpsichordist based in Seattle. He has made a wonderful career for himself: cofounding the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, teaching at Cornish College, and starting his own chamber music series. He embodies the wonderful range of activities one can do with music while living a happy, humble life.

What are your favorite viola pieces and why?

I would say my favorite viola piece is Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher. I played it for my college auditions and really grew to love it.

Ideally where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I really love chamber music, so being a member of a chamber group would be awesome!

What do you like about Rice and the Shepherd School of Music?

Rice is a wonderful place to be! It has a beautiful campus and, beyond the great music school, the academic classes offered here are phenomenal. My favorite aspect of going to school here is the diversity of the people. Being able to converse with all sorts of people studying a wide range of fields is really great!

Who are your favorite violists and why?

Tabea Zimmermann is probably my favorite violist. She makes everything sound so effortless and yet immensely rich and expressive.

What was one of your best musical experiences?

In high school I attended Greenwood Music Camp in western Massachusetts. It’s a special place with awesome people, and the chamber music concerts there have been some of my favorite musical experiences ever.

Who is the maker of your instrument and bow?

I am fortunate enough to play a viola made by Frank Ravatin. My bow was made by Pierre-Yves Fuchs.

Best awkward stand-partner/ orchestra/ audition experience?

Hmm, I don’t have any that come to mind immediately. But at my very first college audition I was playing in an opera rehearsal room with a door that had been left open during a cold January day. Naturally the temperature in the room was 10 degrees colder than the room I had been warming up in, so when I got to the end of my solo Bach (the prelude to the 3rd suite) my D string slipped pretty severely. I was so close to the end though that I decided to tough it out, but if you’re familiar with the end of that particular movement it ends on some lovely chords. Needless to say, my chords were not so lovely.

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

Percussion. I love rhythm; I was always tapping on my desk in school or just about anywhere. I actually played percussion briefly in elementary school, but I didn’t have time for violin, viola, AND percussion.

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