Hi, I'm Gwen
Find out my story of becoming a viola player in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a violin and viola teacher, and certified yoga instructor.
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 near the river. 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!
National Youth String Orchestra Junior
Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Academy Orchestra
The Long Version
Hi, my name is Gwendolyn, but everyone calls me Gwen
Hello! I'm Gwen and I’m a professional musician and yoga teacher. I’m Associate Principal Viola in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, I teach private violin and viola lessons, and I teach Hatha and Vinyasa Flow yoga to teenagers and adults of all ability levels.
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and started to play the violin when I was five years old. I fell in love with playing in a big group at an early age, and I decided that I wanted to play in a symphony orchestra when I was eight years old. On my teacher’s hunch I tried playing viola when I was sixteen and I never looked back!
I earned my Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, in Baltimore, Maryland, where I studied with Victoria Chiang. I then spent a year of a Master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, in Boston, Massachusetts, studying with Martha Katz. After that I moved to Salzburg, Austria, where I did a full Master of Music degree in Viola Performance at the Mozarteum University, studying with Thomas Riebl.
Living in England wasn’t on my radar as a life plan, but after Salzburg my plans changed and I ended up moving to London for a tutti position in the Philharmonia Orchestra. I played there for nearly eight years, making music all over the world with some world-class colleagues and friends.
It was during this time that I fell in love with yoga. I had dabbled in it as a teenager, but in 2011 I tried Bikram yoga and found it a great antidote to the demands of professional orchestral life. I loved the heat, loved the stretching, and loved how calm I felt afterwards. I started to explore Vinyasa Flow yoga as well, learning from some excellent teachers in London and online. In 2014 I founded the Philharmonia Yoga Group which I ran for two years, leading colleagues in pop-up yoga sessions in hotel conference rooms and the back stages of concert halls in the UK and abroad.
However as much fun as my busy London touring life was, I knew that I wanted to teach as well as play. In 2016 I moved to Liverpool to be one of two Associate Principal Violas (no 2) in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. I share the position and play half of the orchestra’s schedule, which allows me time to teach!
I currently teach a private studio of thirteen students of all ages. I also coach with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Youth Academy Orchestra, occasionally coach at the Royal Northern College of Music, and do yearly courses as a viola tutor with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain.
In 2022 I did my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Hatha and Vinyasa Flow yoga through the thorough and excellent training from Yoga Course. I’ve also done a 20 hour qualification in Trauma Sensitive Yoga through Trauma Therapy Manchester and I am currently completing a 40 hour Teen Yoga Teacher Training through LKY Yoga School. I also take regular one-on-one mentoring from Yoga Megs.
I now split my time between playing in the RLPO, teaching private violin and viola lessons to teens and adults of all ability levels, and teaching yoga to teens and adults in a variety of different contexts.
Want to find out more about my performing or teaching?
Please get in touch and let's discover what I can do for you!