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Meet the Orchestra: Theresa Rudolph

July 5, 2024

“When you see a great performance, maybe you don’t even know all the reasons why it was great, but it’s because there’s a great viola section.” Theresa Rudolph, Assistant Principal Viola of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, underscore the vital yet often understated role of the viola in orchestral music. For Theresa, the bond with her viola goes beyond mere instrument and musician; it’s a deep relationship akin to performing with a friend and colleague.

Theresa’s instrument, a viola made by Stefano Scarampella in 1891, has its own remarkable story. This particular viola almost ended up in the trash after sitting in a closet untouched for 30 years. “It’s small but produces a warm, big sound that projects beautifully in the concert hall. My previous viola was larger, and after a few years, I thought it’d be nice to have something more comfortable.” She also shares that the viola’s size is not only comfortable but also makes her practice more efficient.

Theresa’s musical journey did not begin with the viola. Instead, her first instrument was the violin at the age of 3. “My younger brother says his childhood was spent getting dragged around to all my different recitals and lessons, and he says that I still have the same look on my face when I play as I did when I was little,” she recalls. She started lessons in the Suzuki method, quickly finding joy in making music. “Looking back at these old photos, I realized that I look like one of the happiest kids on stage during these Suzuki recitals. The same joy that I feel now when I make music was evident even when I was 3 years old.”

When Theresa was 12, her musical journey took a pivotal turn when she was introduced to the viola by her mother at the Vancouver Academy of Music. “I was completely hooked. The sound of the viola and its role in chamber and orchestral music drew me in. I love the idea of being behind the scenes, supporting the music.”

Discover more about Theresa’s musical journey in our latest installment of Meet the Orchestra

Meet the Orchestra: Theresa Rudolph