Four Fiddlers Mark 25 Years with the BSO
by Ellen Pendleton Troyer
Over the course of four days in late 1990, the BSO violin audition committee, comprised of 10 players plus music director David Zinman, heard nearly 100 violinists. The goal was to fill four violin section openings. After three days of listening and two rounds of candidates playing behind a screen, a few finalists emerged to perform in full view for the committee. It was a grueling process. The winners? Rebecca Nichols and Ellen Pendleton won positions in the first violins. Ivan Stefanovic and James Umber won positions in the seconds.
Ellen Pendleton, 24 had completed her Masters in Music degree from The Juilliard School of Music, and had recently joined The New Haven Symphony.
Rebecca Nichols, 31, held a Bachelor of Music degree from The Eastman School of Music, and was the Assistant Concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic.
Ivan Stefanovic, 21, was finishing up his graduate degree at The Cleveland Institute of Music, and was Principal Second Violin of The Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.
James Umber, 23, had recently graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music.
We were strangers to each other, and to Baltimore, as we started our BSO careers in January of 1991. In 2016, we can count three marriages, five kids, much laughter, and great friendships among us. Twenty-five years, three music directors, eight tours, one Grammy Award, and many stellar recordings and concerts later, we four look back on our quarter century with the BSO. Undoubtedly, our collective talents and combined 100 years of experience have helped contribute to the greatness of the Baltimore Symphony’s 100 year history.