Alumni Play On: Joan DerHovsepian, 1987

Joan DerHovsepian is the Associate Principal Violist of the Houston Symphony. She also teaches the viola orchestral repertoire classes at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. These classes are designed specifically to help the viola majors train for the rigors of professional orchestra auditions. Prior to playing in the orchestra, Joan performed in a full-time string quartet in Texas.

Joan joined MYSO (then MFY) in sixth grade and played viola in the program for seven years until she graduated from South Milwaukee High School in 1987. She was part of all three orchestras that were offered and worked with conductors Ronald Melby, Harriet Briski, Joseph Seroogy, and Margery Deutsch. Joan was “motivated by the conductors and exposure to the great repertoire.”

Many of her first performances of orchestral works and of the standard, beloved pieces were with MYSO. “I discovered the value of observing and learning from everyone around me. MYSO not only helped me play my instrument better, the many positive aspects of the program cemented my love for orchestral and all ensemble playing. I enjoyed that every one of us had a common artistic goal and together could accomplish great things. This was powerful for me when I was in school, and I still feel that way.”

This July, Joan was at the Grand Teton Music Festival playing in the orchestra with Daniel Laufer, Associate Principal Cello of the Atlanta Symphony. Joan and Daniel were in MYSO together in seventh grade! Joan formed many life-long friendships through MYSO, especially the musicians that she carpooled with.

Upon reflection, Joan shared: “I’ve now had a career in orchestra for well over 20 years, playing in many of the finest concert halls in the world under the greatest conductors: Riccardo Muti, Simon Rattle, Leonard Bernstein! MYSO was a key part of my musical foundation and I will always be grateful for it.”

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