Paula White, Violin

Paula White, Violin

Mickey Mouse Club, Romper Room, Engineer Bill? Nah. At age 5, Paula turned on the TV in Charleston, West Virginia, and watched a group of children playing violin. “I was really taken with it. I told my parents I’d pay for my own violin if I could play.” She didn’t have to.

Paula took lessons from the concertmaster of the Charleston Symphony, a recent convert to the Suzuki method (for non-string players, it’s focused on teaching especially young children through listening, imitation and repetition, “playing by ear”). Paula spent summers at a Suzuki camp in Wisconsin, often practicing her violin in the great outdoors.

The family moved to Minneapolis when Paula was 10. “I felt like a hillbilly from Appalachia, but there was a fabulous music program and that really helped.” She still studied using the Suzuki method and advanced to playing Brandenburg 3! She played through high school and joined the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony, which toured through Germany and the United Kingdom. That combination of music and travel continued while she was at the University of Chicago and played with the University Symphony Orchestra. “We toured Yugoslavia, Hungary and Austria and played a lot of early music.”

Paula moved to the Bay Area after college, and played with the UC Berkeley Symphony. “There was a really young conductor named Eric Hansen!” And then she took a serious turn into the world of early music, using a Baroque bow and restringing with gut (before synthetic, before steel, before wound gut, strings were pure guts!). That led to several years of playing with the UC Berkeley Collegium and Baroque Etcetera.

“But I missed the modern repertoire,” so Paula joined Oakland Civic and Prometheus, while working as an environmental program coordinator for The Watershed Project. “Prometheus had been on my radar for years and it’s great to play with Eric again.”

Paula sums up how most of us feel: “It’s a profound gift to participate in making music with other people. We all share a creative common interest. I’m really grateful the Bay Area has so many wonderful playing opportunities.”

~ Joyce Vollmer

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