Meet Our Musicians

Ellen Ferdon

Ellen Ferdon

On Stage

Ellen Ferdon, section viola, began playing around the age of 9. She was ready to give up at one point, but one Sunday at church, a violist that had just moved to Raleigh, played for the service. She had found my new teacher who changed her path. Ferdon attended UNC Greensboro for 2 years, then transferred to UNC School of the Arts where she studied under Sally Peck. Peck, Ferdon says, was the teacher who pushed her to her limits, and she began playing professionally throughout the area. She has played at the Aspen Music Festival and the International Music program through UNCSA.

Off Stage

Hometown: Raleigh, NC

In which season did you join the Charlotte Symphony? 1983
 
Why did you select your instrument?
I began in 4th grade when music was introduced through the public school system. I really wanted to play violin, but they didn't have enough to go around. So, they suggested the viola, and I never looked back!
 
Does your instrument have a special story?
I have a smaller viola, made by Gabrielle Kundert from Olney, Maryland. She works from her house and specializes in smaller violas. The few times I have been there, she has nothing to show, as she sells these instruments as fast as she makes them. I love that she is close enough if I need an adjustment.

What would most surprise people about you?
I love being a foodie - I do make a mean lasagna, and a mean cherry tart! Finding that one recipe that magically works is my mission.
 
If you could meet one composer, who would it be and what would you ask him/her?
In 1982 at UNCSA, Leonard Bernstein came to conduct the orchestra for the opening of the Stevens Center. He was the most dynamic and inspiring musician that I've ever met. I would love to listen (again) to him talk about his passion for music.
 
What’s your funniest/most compelling on-stage moment?
I remember a few years ago, Yo-Yo Ma soloed with us. After that, he played the Mozart symphony with us - sitting on stage in the cello section, right beside me. It was an honor!
 
Any pre-performance rituals?
Eating well before a concert is the best thing I can do for myself. Staying hydrated and well-rested.
 
Other than your instrument, what would we find in your instrument case?
A picture of the Italian Riviera in the Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful places I have visited.
 
What do you love most about being a professional musician?
Sitting so close to the world's greatest soloists and artists is electrifing. On stage, we have a different perspective than the audience - I love the close connection! One of my favorite performances was a pops concert with Chicago a few years ago - they were fantastic and I loved the packed audience going wild!