THE MUSIC MAKERS - MARIA SCHLEUNING
THE MUSIC MAKERS
After 24 seasons with the DSO, violinist Maria Schleuning says she still feels inspired every single day she comes to work. Maria is also Artistic Director of the contemporary music ensemble Voices of Change. She enjoys performing chamber music with her friends and colleagues, but her greatest adventure began 10 years ago when she became a mother and adopted her son. Read on for this Q&A with Maria.
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Education: Indiana University (Performer’s Certificate); [CN1] The Juilliard School (mater’s)
With the DSO since: 1994
Previous position: Freelance musician in New York City, NY
How and when did you choose the violin as your instrument?
I chose the violin when I was six years old. My mom asked me if I wanted to learn the violin, and I eagerly said yes (without being sure what it was!) because my two older sisters were playing musical instruments and I did not want to be left out!
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I think I really decided to be a professional violinist when I was 16, after two significant events. The first was being a finalist in the Seventeen Magazine and General Motors National Concerto Competition in New York, and then several months later I was Concertmaster of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra. I was inspired to hear and get to know so many amazing and talented young players from around the country, and I made friendships there that have lasted a lifetime.
What has been your most memorable experience or performance with the DSO so far?
I have had many memorable experiences with the DSO—performing with great conductors, soloists and colleagues; traveling to different countries on tour and playing in beautiful halls. A significant moment for me in recent seasons was the opportunity to play the Schnittke Concerto Grosso No. 2 as a soloist with my good friend and colleague, Jolyon Pegis. It was exciting to learn such a difficult new work and then have the opportunity to perform it with my fabulous friends!
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
One thing I’ve always loved about playing the violin is playing with my friends in a chamber music setting. I feel so fortunate to have been able to do a whole lot of this since I’ve been in Dallas, and throughout my career. We can all get together and communicate with one another in a more intimate setting. I love playing chamber music and contemporary music because it keeps my playing fresh and my mind active – it keeps me motivated and excited about music.
What are your interests outside of classical music?
I like to write, and I’m in a book club with some great ladies, which I really enjoy. But my biggest passion has been in the last 10 years – being a mother. My husband and I adopted our son 10 years ago from China when he was 7 ½. It’s been the greatest, most fulfilling adventure of my life. Our son is an avid and fantastic tennis player, which has been so enriching for me as well. His interests are so different from what mine were, but I see how his discipline and skill in tennis relate to the violin. Plus, I’ve made some of the greatest friends in the other mothers, and those are people I wouldn’t have otherwise come into touch with in my life. It’s also been really great because I’ve been able to bring that to my music-making and my creativity.
What advice do you have for young, aspiring violinists?
Work very hard, but always LOVE what you do — enjoy the music!
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