Hi, I'm Gwen
I've studied and toured all over the world. Find out more about my experiences or read the long version underneath.
I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Viola Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, in Baltimore, Maryland. After that I studied for a year in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music. Then in 2006 I moved to Salzburg, Austria, to do a Master’s degree at the Mozarteum University, studying with Thomas Riebl.
After Salzburg I ended up getting a tutti job in the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, where I worked for nearly eight years. During this time I also freelanced with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Since 2016 I've been Joint Associate Principal Viola (no. 2) in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
I am also an active teacher.
Bruch Romance Op. 85, for Viola and Orchestra
Mozart Sinfonia Concertante 1st movement
Mozart Sinfonia Concertante 2nd movement
Mozart Sinfonia Concertante 3rd movement
Mozart Sinfonia Concertante 3rd movement ending
I teach both viola and violin from beginner to advanced. My students are all ages and abilities and part of the joy of teaching is adapting to each student's individual needs and strengths. I teach from my home in Garston, often with my friendly cat, Autumn, nearby. In autumn 2020 I joined the University of Liverpool as an Instrumental Tutor.
In order to help students achieve their fullest potential, I initially focus on building foundational technique and self-awareness when playing. I love teaching the “whys” and “how to's” of the craft of playing, and I do this with lots of creativity and enthusiasm! As we learn step by step, students develop the ability to problem solve for themselves and grow into their own as musicians. I want to equip my students to play with excellence for their whole lives, because being a musician is wonderful!
I am passionate about access to high quality music teaching for all and work with a variety of youth ensembles including the ones listed below. I also helped organise Liverpool’s first annual Merseyside Viola Day!
The Long Version
Hi, my name is Gwendolyn, but everyone calls me Gwen
Hello! I'm Gwen and I’m a professional musician and violin and viola teacher. I’m one of two Associate Principal Violas in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, where I’ve been since 2016.
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and started to play the violin when I was five years old. I remember the first time I touched a violin - it was lying on a table and I tapped it like it was a drum! The Suzuki program I started in had Saturday morning Repertoire classes, where all the students in the school would get together and play the songs they had learned as a big group. I loved being part of a big sound like that. In fact, I still do!
I decided that I wanted to play in a symphony orchestra when I was eight years old. My parents were bemused but supportive! When I was sixteen, my violin teacher had a hunch that I should try playing the viola. I gave it a go and it instantly felt right. I played both violin and viola for a few years before fully switching to viola for music college.
I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Viola Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, in Baltimore, Maryland, where I studied with Victoria Chiang. She was warm, nurturing, analytical, and had extremely high standards. She’s my biggest influence in my own teaching! After attending Peabody I studied for a year in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music. But I had itchy feet and the desire to learn viola with an amazing Austrian teacher named Thomas Riebl. In 2006 I moved to Salzburg, Austria, to do a Master’s degree at the Mozarteum University, studying in his class.
Living in England was not part of my life plan, but my plans changed after Salzburg when I auditioned for, and got trials in, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra! I ended up getting a tutti job in the Philharmonia, where I played for nearly eight years. We played some fantastic concerts, toured the world performing in many glamorous (and not so glamorous) venues, and I made some great friends there. During this time I was also lucky enough to do a bit of freelancing with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra!
However as much fun as it was to live in London and tour a lot, I knew that I wanted to teach as well as play. I couldn’t have been happier to get the job as Associate Principal Viola (no 2) in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, where I now play half of the time. In 2016 I moved north to Liverpool, and fell in love with this friendly, vibrant city. I even married a Scouse man!
These days I split my time between playing in the RLPO, and teaching violin and viola from my home in Liverpool to students of all ages and ability ranges. I love being encouraging and supportive, and helping my students learn and grow. Like my teacher Vicky, I try to be warm, nuruting, analytical, and have extremely high standards. In addition to private teaching, I also teach with the RLPO’s In Harmony program, coach with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and teach with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain.
A recent highlight was helping organise Liverpool’s first annual Merseyside Viola Day in January 2020. In September of the same year I also joined the University of Liverpool as an Instrumental Tutor.
Want to find out more about my performing or teaching?
Please get in touch and let's discover what I can do for you!