Loretta Gillespie, Viola
When did you begin to play your instrument?
I began viola lessons in 5th grade when a new string program was established at my school. I chose viola because I didn’t really know what it was and I also didn’t want to be like everybody else (lots of kids were choosing violin); I wanted to be different.
Do you play any other instruments?
I started on piano when I was about five or six years old but haven’t played in years. In middle school I tried flute for a year.
Where did you study your main instrument; with whom?
I began my undergraduate degree at Wichita State University studying with Charles Benson Headley, then transferred to Northern Illinois University where I joined the studio of Richard Young, the violist of the Vermeer Quartet. After receiving my Bachelor of Music degree from NIU I attended the University of Houston where I studied with Lawrence Wheeler and Kerry O’Hare.
When did you join ESO?
What other orchestras have you played with/do you play with now?
I frequently play with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra and sub with other groups in the area, including the Illinois Philharmonic and the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan. I also appear in pit orchestras with Broadway in Chicago and the Paramount Theater in Aurora.
Your most memorable ESO performance
It’s hard to pick just one! Sibelius isn’t usually on my list of favorite composers but I loved playing his Second Symphony with Daniel Hege on the podium. Also, I found Maestro Grams’ “audition” especially moving. I love Shostakovich anyway but that concert was particularly intense.
Additional interesting information
While playing Cabaret at the Paramount Theater a few years ago, we (the pit musicians) always had a puzzle going in the green room. I was reminded of how much I enjoy doing puzzles, so when the show ended I started doing them on my own – there’s always one living on my dining room table. Sometimes I finish in a week, sometimes it takes a month, depending on how much free time I have. Now that I’m not employed it feels like all I do is work on puzzles. Actually, “work” is the wrong word – it’s an addiction. I forget to eat and just keep going. The accompanying picture shows my latest effort; I think I’ll try a colorful one next.