In June of this year, Sam Weiser was one of 24 violinists auditioning for a spot with the orchestra.
Fast forward three months and after winning the Assistant Concertmaster position, Sam found himself fast-tracked for the top job for season opener INTERSECTIONS, as Concertmaster Jennifer Cho sat it out due to a scheduling conflict.
We sat down with Sam to learn more. (And you can learn yet more at Meet the Musician with Sam Weiser at the Bedford Gallery on October 19—details below!)
Hi Sam, welcome to California Symphony! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Westport, CT. I spent 5 years in Boston, where I studied computer science at Tufts University and violin at the New England Conservatory. Then…San Francisco! I completed my Master’s in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2019.
I’ve been in the Del Sol Quartet for 4 years now, and that’s mostly where you’ll hear me, but you’re sure to catch me playing around the Bay Area with other people too!
What most excites you about becoming Assistant Concertmaster?
I can’t wait to learn from Jenny – her leadership, her poise, and good golly, her violin playing!! I hope that I can contribute as a leader and a collaborator with the rest of the violin section, and the orchestra, to encourage a chamber music-like atmosphere where we are all bringing out the best in each other. I feel confident Jenny, Donato, and everyone else will do that for me!
How was your first concert with us?
I had such a blast! I was inspired by some phenomenal music making, but even more than that, it was such a joy to meet everyone. Each and every member of the orchestra came ready to contribute to a community of respect, motivation, and musicality, starting with Donato, and it made for a really wonderful week.
Who inspired you to learn your instrument?
My first babysitter! She had just started violin as part of the elementary school orchestra, and I was enamored. But, truthfully, the reason I play violin is because when I was 3 years old, my mom didn’t let me start on the tuba.
At Meet the Musician on October 19, you’ve opted to perform a short program of solo works written by contemporary composers Vijay Iyer, Jessie Montgomery, and Mads Toling. Can you talk a little about your selections?
Why does my musical voice matter? Why me? I think about this question a lot, but perhaps never more than when I perform solo. When I play music in what we consider a violinist’s standard repertoire, I hope that I can take an audience on a journey, with my violin as a storytelling medium. But, I can’t escape this nagging feeling that it’s a story that’s already been told, and while I believe wholeheartedly in the power of live music, that sentiment only grows as recordings and our speaker systems at home improve.
I find creative programming, then, to be one of my most powerful tools in curating a journey that might be unique. In this case, I chose three pieces by composers whose music often rejects the concept of genre. For much of my life, I have too. I think a defiance of genre is, simply, a way to connect with more people, people who may not think that a violinist alone on a stage is music for them. And oh, how many more stories that sort of music can tell.
Any hidden talents you’d like to share?
I don’t know about talent, but I play a whole lot of Dungeons & Dragons! I love playing in games, but also running them!
Favorite Bay Area haunts?
If you’re looking for a city hike in San Francisco, Corona Heights Park is my go-to. If you’re looking for a fancy dinner, the sushi at Hanazen in Orinda was the best meal of my life. And if you’re visiting me in Sacramento, we’ll go to Corti Brothers for a sandwich!
What is your greatest musical accomplishment?
In my first ever violin recital, I got up on stage, bowed, and promptly dropped my violin on the ground. Any concert that goes better than that becomes an accomplishment in my book.
You can learn more about Sam at Meet the Musician, a happy hour-and-a-half of drinks and appetizers, solo performance, conversation, and Q&A hosted by Music Director Donato Cabrera. The event will take place on October 19 at 5:30 pm at the Bedford Gallery, inside the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.
Donors, contact the office for your free or discounted tickets at email@example.com | 925.280.2490.