Behind the Bow: Meet Alexandra Simpson, Assistant Principal Violist

Trailblazing Assistant Principal Violist Alexandra Simpson has performed and taught all over the world, from Bucaramanga, Colombia to Cornwall, England.  In addition to acing her California Symphony audition last year, she’s appeared with international superstars including Kygo, Josh Groban, and Michael Bublé, and performed over 100 shows of The Queen’s Ball—A Bridgerton Experience. We sat down with Allie to learn more.

Where are you from?

I live in San Francisco now but I’m originally from a small town near Santa Rosa called Kenwood! 

Do you have a favorite composer?

My favorite composer is usually whoever is giving me the most grief in the practice room at any given time. I get obsessed! 

You’ve performed all over the world with superstars like Kygo, Michael Bublé, and Josh Groban.  Any tea to spill from your brushes with celebrity? 

I’ve signed about 3 million NDAs for each celebrity I’ve played with so if I had tea I would be legally obligated not to spill it ;). I will say that Michael Bublé is super nice and makes an effort to say hello to all his string players!

100+ Performances of the Bridgerton Experience!  What was that like? (Any pics?!)

You bet there are pics. We had a lot of down time between shows to make ridiculous videos backstage, and one of the reels we created actually got over 1 million views on Instagram! As you can see, I can rock the heck out of a wig.

Allie at the Bridgerton Experience

How have you enjoyed playing for the California Symphony so far?  Any observations to share?

From my first concert set, I felt so immediately welcomed by the orchestra and my section. This has got to be one of the nicest groups I’ve ever played with. Plus, Donato was my SFSYO conductor and one of the reasons why I decided to pursue music so it’s really thrilling to get to work with him as a professional now! 

BERKELEY, CA – April 29 – Alexandra Simpson and Jennifer Cho attend RHYTHMS AND REVELRY benefiting the California Symphony on April 29th 2023 at Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley, CA (Photo – Drew Altizer)

We hear you teach Sound Minds alumni at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. Anything to share re our Sound Minds students?

I’m just so proud of how far they’ve all come. I started teaching them when they were in middle school and now they’re off to some really impressive colleges. It’s such a fabulous program and it’s amazing to see the impact of musical education!

What’s the biggest misconception that people have about your instrument?

On the street, people usually assume  it’s a violin, guitar, or a Tommy gun. But people also tend to think violists are failed violinists when in reality, I think all violinists secretly wish they could join the viola section because we are usually the coolest people in the string section. Bassists are a close second. 

@allieviolist: Happy 10 years @groupmuse. The amazing musicians in the third slide video are @mahzetar…truly stunning set❤️

You are very active on Instagram.  What sort of things can people who follow you expect to see on your page @allieviolist?

It depends! I try to post about my shows when I can, but I’m generally pretty goofy and try to be authentic. I like taking pictures of sunsets and nice views, but it’s nothing revolutionary. I try not to be a slave to it, but I think it’s such a useful tool to share updates about my career and travels! I find that sharing pictures of myself tends to get the most likes so while it may appear that I’m extremely vain, in reality I’m only moderately vain but a major attention seeker. Common misconception!

Are you on TikTok? (Any plans to be?) 

I think I made a TikTok but I don’t really use it. I should!!

Do you have any hidden talents?

I love baking. And I enjoy running (slowly) in half marathons and reading pop science books. They make me feel smart even though they’ve clearly been dumbed down enough to be comprehensible even to people who went to music school like me.

Allie leaves her wig and costume behind to perform a few solo pieces before diving into a Q&A with the audience at Meet the Musician, Tuesday, October 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Concord Historical Society—Dave Brubeck Stage. Tickets are $50*, of which $30 is a donation to California Symphony’s Fall Matching Campaign. Buy tickets online or call the office at 925.280.2490,

*Tickets are FREE to donors at the $500+ annual giving level. Donate during the Fall Matching Campaign and if you reach the $500 level of annual giving, we’ll send you a promo code for free tickets to this event, and your impact will be doubled!