Jessie Moravek, viola, Co-Principal
It was a little like Goldilocks: the cello was tooooo big, the violin was tooooo squeaky but the viola was juuust right!
When Jessie was 8 years old and wanted to play a string instrument, her mom instituted that Goldilocks rule and Jessie became the proud player of a viola. “I loved it!” She played in the elementary school orchestra in Saint Charles, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. And when she had to switch schools, viola and the orchestra were her constants. Unlike many violists, the viola was her first instrument. “I can play violin, but I really play viola.”
And then in fifth grade, Jessie started to play….French horn! Bet you didn’t see that coming. She took it up because the kids in band seemed to be having so much fun. By high school, she was playing viola in orchestra, the French horn in concert band and the mellophone in marching band! All we can say, is wow. (The mellophone is a three-valved brass instrument usually pitched in the key of F or E♭. It’s used in marching bands in place of French horns because the bell faces forward rather than the back-facing French horn.)
Jessie continued this trio of instruments and orchestras and bands through college at Northwestern University. And then moved to Lancaster, England for a Masters degree. Where she played English fiddle music on her viola at pubs with the old English guys. She just played the violin music an octave down. There may have been a pint involved.
Now at UC Berkeley working on a PhD in Environmental Science (with a specialty in rivers and freshwater ecology), Jessie says that playing viola relaxes her brain. “Music uses my brain differently; I’m usually analytical and scientific. Music is a different process that I really like.”
She found Prometheus after a pandemic-forced hiatus from playing with a group. “Prometheus is a nice balance between having fun and also playing new, challenging and interesting pieces.” What will happen when she completes her PhD?
“Well don’t worry, this is a loooong program. You’ve got me for at least three more years.” We couldn’t be happier!
~ Joyce Vollmer