Jonah SirotaResearch Associate Professor, Artist-in-Residence, Viola
Area of Focus: Strings
Violist Jonah Sirota is known as a solo and chamber music violist of great range and depth. After making his solo debut at the age of 17 with Alan Gilbert and the Juilliard Pre-College Symphony, he won concerto competitions at both Rice University and at the Juilliard School, and was third prize winner in the 2006 Naumburg Viola Competition. A champion of new music, he has commissioned and premiered new viola works from Gabriela Lena Frank, Arthur Joseph McCaffrey, Damon Thomas Lee, Alexis Bacon, Robert Sirota, and Rodney Lister. He has performed at the Marlboro, Norfolk, Yellow Barn, and Aspen music festivals.
Mr. Sirota is also the violist of the Chiara String Quartet, known for playing repertoire By Heart, without printed music. The first to play the complete cycle of Bartok string quartets from memory, the Chiara Quartet will be releasing their Bartok by Heart album on Azica records in 2016. With the Chiara Quartet, Mr. Sirota has also recorded the complete Brahms quartets, which the Strad lauded as "an outstanding set," as well as the string quartets of Jefferson Friedman, a recording that garnered a 2011 Grammy Nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The Chiara Quartet serves as Hixson-Lied Artists-in-Residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Glenn Korff School of Music. Mr. Sirota's position at UNL includes teaching a select studio of violists, as well as helping run the chamber music program, coaching student chamber music groups and a performance series with the quartet. With the Chiara Quartet, Mr. Sirota also taught at Harvard University as Blodgett Artist-in-Residence from 2008-2014. Additionally, Mr. Sirota teaches at the Greenwood Music Camp (the nation's oldest summer chamber music school), and as a guest artist and teacher at masterclasses and festivals worldwide.
Mr. Sirota has studied with Martha Katz, Roberto Diaz, and Samuel Rhodes, among others. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelors of Music degree from Rice University, and then received both a Master of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in String Quartet Studies from the Juilliard School. He studied aesthetic education and audience engagement at Juilliard with master teacher Eric Booth. In addition, he writes a blog about switching from violin to viola for violinist.com.
As a viola professor, Mr. Sirota specializes in highlighting awareness of the body-mind connection as it applies to technique and musicianship. He has used his own successful experiences in fighting performance-related injuries to help students fix injuries, reduce tension in their playing, reduce fear in their approach to performing and career, and become engaging musicians and artists. Rather than taking a "cookie-cutter" approach to the development of his students, he believes that each student has a unique musical voice, and works to make that voice independent and confident.