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Lisa Mattson, Assistant Principal Viola

Lisa Mattson, Assistant Principal Viola
Leo Montgomery Family Chair

Lisa Mattson chose the viola as her instrument in fourth grade as part of a public school music program. As an undergraduate at Duke University, she surveyed various majors before being encouraged by her viola teacher, George Taylor, to consider pursuing music as a career. This led her to The Juilliard School, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree, and then to the Cleveland Institute of Music for a Master of Music degree. Lisa studied chamber music with the members of the Juilliard String Quartet and participated in the Juilliard Quartet Seminar, Downeast Chamber Music Center, Blossom Music Festival and Music Academy of the West. Lisa is profoundly grateful to her teachers: George Taylor, Margaret Pardee, Heidi Castleman and Lynne Ramsey.

Lisa enjoys sharing their viola wisdom and has been on the music faculty of Florida Gulf Coast University and Community School of Naples. She also maintains a private viola studio. She has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic since 1990.


The facts:

I grew up in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. After attending Duke University for two years, I decided to pursue music as a career and transferred to The Juilliard School where I got my bachelor’s degree, and then to the Cleveland Institute for a Master of Music. Right before I graduated, I took an audition for an orchestra which was hiring a full-time group for the first time. I won that audition and became a member of the Naples Philharmonic in the fall of 1990.

What has been your most memorable moment with the orchestra?

After more than three decades(!) in the orchestra, it is hard to come up with just one or two moments. I think the most memorable aspect has been witnessing and participating in the incredible growth of the Naples Philharmonic and the cultural scene in Naples.

What inspired you to become a musician?

Playing in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra made me want to become a musician, but I didn’t have the confidence to pursue it. Along the way, I had a couple of teachers who encouraged me, and their confidence in me inspired me to go for it.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

I would have to say that is a two-part answer.

The first part is my incredible colleagues! Many of us have been in the orchestra for a long time and have shared so many life events that we basically have become like family. I also feel happy to meet and welcome new members to the orchestra—they bring fresh energy to the group.

My other favorite thing about the job is the variety of music we play. I really like switching between all the different genres of music the way we do. It’s never dull!

What’s challenging about playing your instrument?

This might sound silly, but the viola is kind of heavy and, during long pieces, when you don’t get to put your arms down, it can be painful!

Are there other musicians in your immediate family?

My Great-Aunt Jane was a violinist in the Philadelphia Women’s Symphony (in her day, women were not allowed in an orchestra with men). My mother plays the piano better than she thinks she does, and my father played the trombone not well at all. All of my siblings played instruments for a while as part of our school music program, but I am the only one who stuck with it!

What do you like to do outside of work?

My favorite things to do are work in my yard, read and try out new recipes for family and friends.


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