Hometown: Grew up in Bethesda, Md. Getz is now a proud Bostonian.
Think of: Getz imagines his role in the orchestra in architectural terms, comparing the viola to a column of a building. Just as a column provides structural support sandwiched between the ceiling and base, a violist produces the midregister sound that mediates the flighty melodies of the violins and the low hum of the cellos.
What caught our eye: Just having completed a master’s of music degree at the Juilliard School, Getz is one of two new musicians joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra this season, along with fellow violist Jonathan Chu. Over his 17-year musical career, Getz has earned many awards and honors, including a prize in the 2011 Primrose Competition and a finalist spot in the National Symphony Young Soloists’ Competition.
Light bulb moment: “I don’t remember a time where I didn’t know I wanted to be a musician. I figured I’d study music in college. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it after until I met my first viola teacher in 10th grade. She was a violist with the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. After a couple months of studying with her, I was accepted into a fellowship with the National Symphony which subsidized my lessons and I got to see what it’d be like to be an orchestral musician. It was really then that I realized that it was probably what I wanted to do.”
Biggest thrill: “The classical repertoire is what drew me to this field to begin with and what keeps it exciting. It doesn’t matter how many times you play a Brahms symphony, it can make you feel so many new and different things [each time]. You think you’re desensitized until you hear a piece again and it brings you to tears like never before. That’s what makes being musician so great. It’s
always beautiful; it’s always exciting.”
Biggest surprise: “It’s surprising the degree to which orchestral musicians approach familiar repertoire as if it’s the first time and make it personal. You wouldn’t expect that from a group of 100 people that are playing the same thing and trying to play together. Everyone I’ve worked with professionally is incredibly invested in their personal relationship to what’s happening in the music.”
Inspired by: “When I was an undergrad at New England Conservatory, my instructor was Kim Kashkashian, one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. She taught me a lot about how to be comfortable with my instrument, with performing, and being in my own skin. Discovering music through her eyes and ears was incredibly riveting — every lesson was inspiring.” Beyond the musical realm, Getz also cites his family as influences. His father, Getz says, instilled him with ambition and a goal-oriented mind-set.
Aspires to: “Getting into Boston Symphony was a big goal for me. My goal now is to contribute as much as I can and bring something special to this group.”
For good luck: “I did have a pre-audition and pre-performance ritual that I’m sort of superstitious about, so I can’t share details, but I had specific music I’d listen to, food I ate the day before and morning of.”
What people should know: “I was a violinist for eightyears before switching to viola. One summer, playing with a string quartet, we were short a violist so a violinist had to fill in. Playing the inside register, sound rather than melody, felt different in a way that I appreciated. I never planned on not playing it, but there it was.”
Coming soon: Getz performed with the BSO on its opening night Saturday. The symphony begins the season with an all-Brahms program on Sept. 21 and 24. It’s an exciting start to a career for Getz, as “Symphony No. 2” is one of his favorite pieces.