When I was 25, I barely had health insurance. Daniel Getz is 25 and the new viola player in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I asked him about his favorite place in town to see a concert, and whether classical musicians have a hazing ritual for new members.
Congratulations on your new gig! You’re the young rookie at the BSO this year. How has it been fitting in with the rest of the symphony? Do the classical musicians have a hazing process?
Thank you! It’s very exciting for me to be working with this group of sensational musicians. Fortunately, my colleagues are wonderful people and there is no hazing process. However, we play a different program every week, so there is a lot of new repertoire for me to learn. I suppose that could be construed as one of the challenges of a “hazing ritual,” although exploring the orchestral literature has been a real pleasure for me.
You started playing the viola as a teenager. Did you have any idea that it would lead to a career?
I actually started studying music when I was 7. I played piano for a year, then violin at age 8, and then I switched to viola at 16. Music was always an important part of my life, but I guess I decided sometime in high school that I wanted to play for a living. Before I went to college, my viola teacher was a member of the National Symphony Orchestra, and observing her work with the orchestra made me realize that I wanted a life like that as well. The orchestral repertoire is massive and incredibly rich, and I think some of my most fulfilled moments have happened while performing some of these masterpieces.
You used to live in Boston when you were a student at the New England Conservatory. What’s your favorite place in town to hear live music?
As a student, I used to go to concerts at the New England Conservatory several times every week. There are student recitals almost every day, as well as faculty recitals, faculty chamber music concerts at least once a month, student orchestra concerts and many more. I learned a great deal during college from attending concerts at the Conservatory. The faculty and students there are extremely thoughtful players, and I gained a lot of useful ideas and inspiration listening to them perform. Of course I also loved to attend the Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts. Symphony Hall is such a great performance venue, and I was always in awe of the rich BSO sound.
Finally, since this is a Jewish publication and you are a fiddler of sorts, have you ever played on a roof?! But seriously, do you have any Jewish music in your repertoire?
I have not, but if I did, I would probably fall off! Isn’t that close to what Tevye says? My first musical experiences probably took place in a Jewish context. My father is a lay-leader at our synagogue, and when I was growing up I would sometimes hear him sing. He has a pure, unmannered voice with idiomatic inflection and beautiful intonation, and I think that informed my concept of sound on the viola and violin. I did take a two-hour klezmer seminar once, but that was a really long time ago. My synagogue often held Kabbalat Shabbat services where musical instruments were allowed before sundown, and I played violin at many of those. And of course I have played Kol Nidre a couple of times!
Four Questions is a weekly interview column featuring interesting people connected with the Greater Boston Jewish community. Find past columns here. Have an idea of someone we should interview? Email Molly!
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