Hidden from small

David Nicastro - Behind the Scenes

December 30, 2019

Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.

Where were you born? I was born in Glen Cove, NY, but was raised in the Hague, the Netherlands, from ages 2 to 18.

What piece of music could you hear over and over again? J.S. Bach’s partitas, sonatas, and suites.

What is your most treasured possession? It’s a toss-up between my custom Turner mountain bike and a recently acquired Sartory viola bow.

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? Little Fish.

Tell us about your instrument. It’s a Brothers Amati model made by Peter Westerlund in 2011.

What’s in your instrument case? Well … my viola … and several bows, spare strings, music I’m currently studying, an electronic tuner, pencils, various tools for maintaining things.

If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? I would ask Prokofiev to please write one kick-ass solo piece for the viola.

What piece of music never fails to move you? Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

When did you join the Orchestra? In June 1995.

Do you play any instruments? Violin.

What’s your favorite type of food? The gluten-free variety.

What books are on your nightstand? How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan; Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration by Alfred Corchado; and Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recordings and Discording with Wilco, Etc. by Jeff Tweedy … hard copies. 

Do you speak any other languages? Dutch and French.

Do you follow any blogs? Not really.

Do you have any hobbies? Traveling off the beaten path on my BMW R1200GS Rallye motorcycle.

Do you have a favorite movie? Midnight Run with Robert De Niro.

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or download? I hardly ever buy CDs anymore, except as gifts for other people. I stream 99% of my music.

What’s on your iPod? Everything from Leon Bridges to Wilco, Tribe Called Quest, Childish Gambino, D’Angelo, John Mayer, the Flaming Lips, Jascha Heifetz, Bill Withers, the Beastie Boys … plenty of classical chamber music, too, but suffice it to say that’s a tough question to answer succinctly. I love a lot of music.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? As a child, on my dad’s huge living room speakers. And then live for the first time in 1994 with Wolfgang Sawallisch at the Academy of Music, around the time of my first (unsuccessful) audition here.

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? Carnegie Hall, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.