Joyce Vollmer, violin
When she was in elementary school, Prometheus violinist, board member and long-timer Joyce Vollmer first chose to play flute. There was only one problem: she couldn’t make any noise out of it! Luckily, the school conductor suggested she try violin instead, and she has been playing it ever since.
Joyce took private lessons and participated in the good school music programs she had in her hometown of Culver City, Calif., playing in orchestras throughout elementary, middle and high school. In high school she also performed in musicals, including the violin-tastic Fiddler on the Roof. She was, of course, the fiddler in the pit!
She went on to UCLA, where she earned a degree in English and continued her violin studies. Her teacher was acclaimed violinist and conductor Mehli Mehta, father of conductor Zubin Mehta. “It was a great experience,” she says. “The department wanted him to fill up all his lesson spots, so I had two per week. And with two lessons a week, I practiced four hours a day!” She played with the UCLA Chamber Orchestra and the American Youth Symphony, which Mehta founded and conducted, and she brags that with AYS she once performed alongside the great Yehudi Menuhin, who played the Tchaikovsky violin concerto you will hear today. She took her violin to England, too, and played with the University of Birmingham Orchestra when she studied abroad there for a year.
Joyce next attended graduate school at UC Berkeley, obtaining a master’s degree in English on modernist novels. It was while playing with the UC Berkeley Summer Orchestra that she learned of Prometheus Symphony. Various members recommended us to her, and she’s been a stalwart member since 1980, only taking a couple of short breaks when she and her husband welcomed their two children.
Now Director of Strategic Communications at MIG, Inc. in Berkeley, Joyce continues to come to rehearsal every week bringing her smile, metallic nail polish, and energetic, sometimes bouncy playing style. She says, “No matter what is going on in your life, when you come to rehearsal it takes you away from your work deadlines and everyday things, and you’re so glad you came!”
She’s also a member of our Board of Directors, where she has served for many years. Among other things, she is our upper strings section leader, handles our publicity, and writes our member profiles. She bakes her very popular chocolate pecan cookies for our concert concessions, probably thousands of them over the years. She’s excited about where we are now musically. “Our woodwinds are great!” she says. “And our string players have become stronger and show more dedication.” Joyce certainly sets a good example for us!
Thank you, Joyce, for all you contribute to Prometheus!