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December, 19, 2014
12:30 PM - 01:30 PM


Meeting Room W179


Robert Becker

Robert Becker

Demystifying the Viola

Clinic Synopsis:

Come explore and discuss the unique challenges of this wonderful instrument. What are some of the physical obstacles specific to our younger “alto-clef engineers” and how to overcome them? We will present guides to positioning your students well for success in both right and left hands, positioning for future technical success, teaching issues for both private and classroom pedagogues. Effective etudes and scale study. And Yes, what’s FUN about the instrument. In an effort to make this as effective as possible for all teachers participating, please feel free to send your questions ahead of time to Professor Becker’s email address listed below.

Robert Becker - Biographical Information

Associate Professor Robert Becker is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music. Previously the adjunct Professor of Viola at Chapman, he was appointed to the position of Director of String Studies in 2006 after a nationwide search. From 1982 to the present, he has been the Principal Viola of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. The James and Catherine Emmi Foundation underwrites his chair with that orchestra. In the summer of 2013, he was guest artist and soloist at the International Festival for Strings and Piano in Cremona, Italy. Additionally, he was a selected string judge as a part of the panel of judges for the International Strings and Piano Competition held each year in that location. As a past presenter and presider at the American String Teachers Association national conference in 2011 and 2012, he will present a lecture in March of 2014 at that organization’s national conference in Louisville, Kentucky on Pain Free Playing at Any Age. A strong advocate for teaching that works within the strengths of the human body, he is highly sought after as a clinician and master class lecturer. In past years, he has spoken to the Southern California Band and Orchestra Association’s teacher conference on “Demystifying the Viola,” he has been guest artist, recital and master class presenter for the ASTA “Viola Fest” for several hundred violists and teachers in addition to numerous master classes and coaching for local orchestras and school programs. He is a past recipient of the of Chapman University’s Excellence in Teaching Award for 2011. His past students can be found in many orchestras across the United States. In addition to his Chapman class, his viola students have been accepted into prestigious graduate programs at the Cleveland Institute of Music, USC, San Francisco Conservatory, and New England Conservatory. Many of his high school level students have gone on to programs at Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan, and Vanderbilt among others. The recent principal violas of California All-State, ASTA Honors Orchestra, and Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra have all been his students. As a previous recipient of the Naumberg Chamber Music Award, Professor Becker continues that legacy through performances on the Café Ludwig chamber music series with his Principal String colleagues from the Pacific Symphony and internationally known pianist Orli Shaham. Bringing a priority of chamber music to our campus, the first chamber music faculty series was started last year to coincide with the announcement of the Temianka String Scholarship and Violin Professorship on the Chapman campus. As Principal Viola for PSO, he was also the Principal and Solo Viola for all visiting ballet companies at the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center including ABT, Danish Ballet, Australian Ballet, Cuba Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and others. Serving as the chair of the viola audition committee for that organization since 1982, he has been a part of each string audition panel. A past adjudicator for VOCE and ASTA competitions, he has also been the invited string judge for the Naftzger competition in Kansas and the Parker competition for strings in California. He can be heard on more than 400 film scores, numerous television productions and diverse recordings in all musical genres from “Desperate Housewives,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” jazz recordings with Wayne Shorter, to recordings with Johnny Cash and even Elvis. An avid fly fisherman, very slow backpacker, and mediocre golfer, his love of the outdoors partially prompted him to found the “Viola Workout” in Colorado. This is a summer program for all string players that focuses on pedagogy, chamber music, practicing and outdoor events. Voted “Artist of the Year” in 2010 by Arts Orange County, he is honored to continue his involvement with that talented community. A recipient of the John Stahr Award for contribution to the Orange County Arts community, he has also been awarded the “Maestro” Award from the Warne Foundation for his “Contribution to the Performing Arts” in 2012.