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Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be rededicated as Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra

Dara Morales

Musicians Behind the Scenes: Dara Morales

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra on April 07, 2023

Where were you born? I was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and raised in Ephrata.

What piece of music could you play over and over again? Mendelssohn’s String Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20.

What is your most treasured possession? They aren’t possessions, but my “treasures” are my family: my daughters, Isabel (15) and Karina (12), and my husband, Jesús (who probably prefers I don’t list his age!).

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? We just recently had a lovely meal at Malbec Argentine Steakhouse. The Victor Café is always a favorite.

Tell us about your instrument. I am lucky to play on a beautiful 1766 Balestrieri that was Eugene Ormandy’s violin. 

What’s in your instrument case? Besides the Balestrieri, two bows, a varying number of mutes and pencils (they disappear mysteriously quite frequently!), rosin, and extra strings (hopefully). 

What piece of music never fails to move you? Any Mahler. Barber’s Adagio for Strings when [Orchestra Imasogie Storyteller, Narrator, and Host] Charlotte Blake Alston recites excerpts from the “I Have a Dream” speech during our annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Tribute Concert.

When did you join the Orchestra? In 2007.

Do you play any other instruments? Piano, and when I was young, oboe. Making reeds was emotionally exhausting. I played trombone in marching band for fun. After three years of attending football games, I still only know the basics. 

What’s your favorite type of food? Anything I don't have to cook myself. 

What books are on your nightstand? Hard copy or e-reader? I just finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Fault in our Stars by John Green, and Excuse Me While I Disappear: Tales of Midlife Mayhem by Laurie Notaro. On the pile coming up are Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka. Hard copies, except the Laurie Notaro was on my Kindle.

Do you speak any other languages? Enough Spanish to follow along at Morales family gatherings and get by in Puerto Rico.

Do you have any hobbies? I love to read, as do my daughters. We read a lot of the same books so we can discuss them. Young adult books are amazing these days! We also attend a lot of theater and dance. I used to do cross stitch but have done only small pieces since my girls were born. 

What’s the last recording you purchased? I just bought Seong-Jin Cho’s latest recording of Handel after the beautiful Handel encores he played on his January concerts here.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? In junior high school (1987 or 1988) a group from my school came to the Academy to hear the Orchestra. I remember hearing Ravel’s Bolero, which ironically is one of my least favorite pieces now!

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? Carnegie Hall and the Musikverein in Vienna.

Photo: Jessica Griffin

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