Ray Spence, violin

Ray Spence, violin

Ray was on a pathway to becoming a professional violinist. And then didn’t. But there’s so much more.

He was born and raised in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, and started playing violin in 4th grade. “We had good string teachers and a good music program. I consider myself lucky!” As a promising young musician, he started lessons with Lithuanian violinist Elena Kuprevičius (she studied with Paul Hindemith) who had an international solo career. “She drove me hard! She was one of those serious musicians who are really intense.” He did well.

During 10th grade, the family moved to Orange County in Southern California. “The first day of orchestra I sat in the back of the second violin section because no one knew me. We were playing Brahms’s Hungarian Dance #5. I had just performed it the previous year so I could play it right through. I got moved right up to first stand!” Ray continued playing and lessons through high school, eventually as concertmaster. “Then I decided not to pursue music and I stopped lessons.”

He went to UC Berkeley and majored in Medieval History, found his way into IT work for a start-up biotech company in San Francisco and has been a Unix sysadmin for 25 years now.

MEANWHILE. He kept playing violin on his own. “I hacked my way through much of the violin solo repertoire—I wanted to be able to perform what I heard on records.” But after 34 years on his own, he decided to rejoin orchestras. First, the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra. Then, he found Prometheus in an online search. “I like the interesting repertoire Prometheus plays—no show tunes!—and Eric is just a kick in the pants!” Ray’s bucket list includes playing a concerto with an orchestra. Ray…it’s in your court!

~ Joyce Vollmer

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