Professional violist and teacher Wendy Richman currently lives in New York City and is on the faculty of New York University’s Steinhardt School. She teaches viola and a course on techniques for string players in contemporary music, and coaches chamber music. Wendy is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a New York-based contemporary classical music ensemble that performs a diverse and extensive array of chamber, electro-acoustic, improvisatory, and multimedia works. In addition to her work at NYU and with ICE, she frequently performs with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and her all-female contemporary string quartet, The Rhythm Method.
Wendy played viola in MYSO from 1988 through high school graduation in 1997. She was closely connected to MYSO because her entire family was very involved in the organization. Her mom was the Executive Director for 25 years, her dad was on the board of directors, and her brother played trombone for many years. Starting in sixth grade, Wendy was part of MYSO’s chamber music program and played with the same string quartet through high school. She studied privately with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) violist Sara Harmelink from 1989 – 1996 and also worked with MSO principal violist Robert Levine. Some of the most important outcomes of MYSO for her were meeting some of her best friends through MYSO, and learning how to lead, how to be part of a section, and how to be part of an entire orchestra. In addition, she feels fortunate to have taken music theory classes with Dr. John Downey. “Playing in MYSO and its chamber music program laid the entire foundation for my musical training.”
Some of Wendy’s best MYSO memories were around the tours she participated in. “My freshman year, we played Mahler 1 and went to New York City to play Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite in Carnegie Hall. The summer after my senior year was the Spain/Italy tour. Those were absolutely unforgettable opportunities and experiences, musically and socially!”
Wendy attended Oberlin Conservatory for her undergraduate degree, New England Conservatory for her master’s degree, and Eastman School of Music for her doctorate. Much of her career has been related to contemporary music, an affinity she discovered while at Oberlin. “I still love playing that music, but I’m also very fortunate to have opportunities to do many other things and keep my playing in shape with a variety of music. Playing with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra was my ultimate goal as a teenager—so my work with them over the last year has been an absolute dream come true.” Like many musicians, Wendy married another musician, percussionist Tim Feeney, who teaches at California Institute of the Arts. Tim’s job is also “a dream come true for him, so we’re very lucky that we both understand and are supportive of each other’s professional dreams.”
Wendy thinks “it’s important for young musicians to be open-minded about what their careers and personal lives might look like, because there are so many different ways to make things work.”
Learn more about Wendy at wendyrichmanviola.com.