Soloist Spotlight: Sara Dudley

Sara Dudley, a violist, violinist, and passionate music educator, was born into a musical family and grew up in Nashville, TN, before moving to New York to earn her BM in 2018 from the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College. She has garnered an impressive array of performing credits, including the Nashville Early Music Ensemble playing both violin and rebec (a bowed string instrument from the Medieval era and early Renaissance), the Nashville Philharmonic, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Manhattan Opera Studio, Bronx Opera, New Amsterdam Opera, and as a section violist in The Chelsea Symphony. She has performed at major music festivals such as Bonnaroo and SXSW.  She has also made three television appearances including CMT’s Artist of the Year Award, performing with country artist Eric Church, the hit show Nashville, and the Amazon Original Series Mozart in the Jungle. Sara was recently welcomed as a board member of TCS.

On Saturday, January 25th, Sara will have her TCS soloist debut, performing William Walton’s 1929 viola concerto, widely recognized as one of the most important works for the instrument.

TCS: Tell us a little something fun about yourself that isn’t in your bio?

SD: I’m a big weather nerd. If I hadn’t chosen music as a career, I would have pursued meteorology. 

TCS: How did you come to choose your instrument?

SD: The bulk of my training has been on violin, which my father encouraged me to play when I was young. Nowadays, I have a particular interest in 20th century repertoire. I started to become more interested in viola repertoire (most of which falls into this category) during college. After graduation, I rented a viola to try it out. I immediately felt a connection with the viola and haven’t looked back since.  

TCS: Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

SD: Both of my parents are musicians and music educators. They have been inspiring and supportive of my career in music since I was very young. I feel very lucky to have two parents that have navigated the difficult territory of being career musicians before me.

TCS: What has been your proudest moment or moments in music so far?

SD: I always feel proud watching my young students perform and show off their hard work. Passing on the gift of music to a younger generation is incredibly gratifying. 

TCS: When was your first TCS concert? What brought you to the group?

SD: My first TCS concert was in June, 2017. I had a few friends that played with the group and was happy to be invited to join. Since then, TCS has been a big part of my life. I am surrounded by amazing and inspiring musicians who come together to play beautiful and challenging repertoire. 

TCS: Do you have any favorite TCS memories?

SD: Playing John Luther Adam’s Become Ocean under the whale in Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History. You just can’t beat that. 

TCS: What sets TCS apart from other orchestras?

SD: TCS isn’t afraid to tackle major symphonic works that other orchestras in the city won’t. TCS is also committed to playing new works and underperformed repertoire. I think it’s our duty as musicians to challenge our audiences while also playing their symphonic favorites.

TCS: Who are your favorite musicians, past and/or present?

SD: David Oistrakh, Olivier Messiaen, Bill Evans, Patricia Kopatchinskaja…to name just a few!

TCS: What is your ideal day of practice?

SD: Wake up naturally and drink a lot of coffee. I like warming up with no time limitations. Then start working through my repertoire and take time for breaks when I feel mental or physical fatigue. So basically, having unlimited time.

TCS: Why did you choose to perform this piece with TCS?

SD: The Walton Viola Concerto has been an exploratory piece for me. I have discovered much of the viola through learning this work. One thing I have constantly thought about during the process is the major/minor fight throughout the piece. I feel a personal connection to that battle and think Walton explores that dialogue thoughtfully. I think it will resonate with our audience, especially in our current climate. I feel very fortunate to be able to play this work with TCS.

TCS: Do you have a favorite recording of this piece?

SD: I’ve been very drawn toward Antoine Tamestit’s live performance


Join us as TCS welcomes violist Sara Dudley on Saturday, January 25th, at 8pm, at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music at 450 W. 37th Street, performing Walton’s Viola Concerto!