Kerri Ryan

Musicians Behind the Scenes: Kerri Ryan

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra on March 31, 2022

Where were you born? I was born in Memphis, Tennessee.

What piece of music could you play over and over again? I could play any of the Mendelssohn symphonies forever and never grow tired of them.

What is your most treasured possession? My viola, of course!

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? Monk’s Cafe is my favorite because of their delicious food and unbelievable beer selection.

Tell us about your instrument. I play on a “modern” Italian instrument made in 1910 by Gaetano Sgarabotto. Before I owned it, it was played in the New York Philharmonic for 50 years.

What’s in your instrument case? Besides my viola and two bows, I keep rosin, extra strings, pencils, earplugs, nail clippers, my tiny silver pig for good luck, and these days, extra black masks.

If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? I would ask Dvořák why he didn’t write solo works for the viola, because he was a professional violist. What’s up with that!?!

What piece of music never fails to move you? Strauss’s Four Last Songs, it slays me every time.

When did you join the Orchestra? In September 2007.

Do you play any other instruments? I play only the viola in public, but at home I enjoy playing piano, my husband’s violin, guitar, and trumpet. 

What’s your favorite type of food? I love Japanese food!

What books are on your nightstand? Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Amor Towels’s The Lincoln Highway, and The Sibley Guide to Birds are on my nightstand in hard copies.
Do you speak any other languages? No, I wish I did!

Do you follow any blogs? Not really. However, I love listening to the Hidden Brain and The Bulletproof Musician podcasts.

Do you have any hobbies? My kids and my students keep me pretty busy, but I do enjoy drawing and watching birds when I have the time. 

Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? I have always loved Walton’s Sonata for String Orchestra, and I have never heard it performed live. 

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or download? Nathalie Stutzmann’s recording with Orfeo 55 titled Contralto, and Butterfly 3001 by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

What’s on your iPod? So much music, and from just about every genre.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? I was a teenager when I heard The Philadelphia Orchestra and violinist Sarah Chang play the Paganini Concerto with Riccardo Muti on the podium at the Academy of Music. I will never forget how inspired I felt after that concert.

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? Carnegie Hall!

Photo: Jessica Griffin

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