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.
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
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!
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.
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.
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!
Eating well before a concert is the best thing I can do for myself. Staying hydrated and well-rested.
A picture of the Italian Riviera in the Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful places I have visited.
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!