Glenn Loontjens, Viola
Marita and Hal Brayman Chair
Glenn Loontjens is originally from Ghent, Belgium. He moved to the United States at age 9 and began studying violin at age 10. Loontjens attended Indiana University as a double major in viola and computer science, where he studied with Abraham Skernick and Joseph DePasquale. He was a principal player of the New World Symphony, the Sarasota Opera Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival and the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Italy.
Loontjens has performed with the Youngstown, Erie, Wheeling, Jacksonville and Florida West Coast symphony orchestras as well as the Florida Orchestra, the Colorado Music Festival and the touring company of the New York City Opera. Loontjens has also been a faculty member of the Eastern Music Festival, in Greensboro, N.C. During the summers, he often travels and enjoys playing at music festivals including those in Carbondale, Ill. and the Black Hills of South Dakota. He has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic since 2001.
I was born in Belgium, and my family moved to the United States when I was age 9. We lived in Portland, Oregon, so I consider myself a west coaster by way of Belgium. I attended Indiana University as a music major, with a second major in computer science. It is there that I quickly decided I wanted a career as a violist. I joined the Naples Philharmonic in 2001 and have been here ever since!
What has been your most memorable moment with the orchestra?
I would say that actually happened before I joined the orchestra—I was here in early 2001 playing for the first time with the orchestra as a substitute musician. It was then that I learned about an upcoming viola audition, and it was then that I was so impressed with the orchestra that I knew without a doubt I wanted to be a part of this. It inspired me all the more for the upcoming audition.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I had lots of varied interests while growing up, and several of them continued to be important to me for years. By the time I was a senior in high school, I realized there was one interest that never faltered, and only grew more and more important to me, so it was natural to pursue at a college and career level. My backup plan, computer science, was always just that—a backup that I was lucky enough not to need. I think music was always both a challenge and reward from the first time I picked up the instrument.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The process of reaching performance readiness is a very important part of the job. It’s unimportant that we all have played some of the same music many times—it is never the same performance; it is always surprising how new and challenging and different the same music can be. It may not be obvious to everyone that most of what we do is actually new or nearly new to us, and that means this job is always changing, always engaging and always rewarding.
What’s challenging about playing your instrument?
As a violist, we have a split role—many times we play with the lower supporting parts of the music, or inner harmonies. However, we also spend a fair amount of our time playing melody or upper lines, or in direct support of those. This middle nature of the instrument makes for interesting, varied and challenging playing.
Are there other musicians in your immediate family?
No, there are not, which in fact has given me a strong belief in the importance of public school music programs. That is how I started. When my school offered stringed instrument programs at an early enough age, it allowed for the possibility of someday developing into a career within such a competitive field.