The Phoenix Symphony is excited to announce we are upgrading to a new, easy-to-use ticketing system. During this transition, our TICKETING SYSTEM IS DOWN September 11, 12, 13, and 14. Our new ticketing system will be live on September 15. Sorry for any inconvenience. Feel free to browse our performances in the meantime.

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Interview: Phoenix Symphony violinist Tessa Gotma

Tessa Gotman joined the Phoenix Symphony last year, returning to the Valley, where she earned her master’s degree in violin performance at Arizona State University. The first violinist for the Herberger String Quartet from 2008-10, she also served as concertmaster for the Scottsdale Arts Orchestra in its first season.
Sarah Hicks conducts the Phoenix Symphony
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22.
Where: Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second St., Phoenix.
Admission: $18-$79.
Details: 602-495-1999,
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21.
Where: Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7830 E. Second St.
Admission: $33-$53.
Details: 480-499-8587,
We caught up with Gotman to talk about the upcoming season and the road that led the St. Louis native to the Phoenix Symphony.
Question: You were 5 when you began your studies?
Answer: It was about my fifth birthday, and both of my parents are musicians. My dad is a violist in the St. Louis Symphony, and my mom is a Suzuki cello teacher. I remember them asking me, “How would you like to play the violin for your birthday?” I said, “Sure” (laughing). And so it began.
Q: When did you start taking it seriously?
A: I think at about the age of 11 or 12, I decided, “This is what I want to do.”
Q: And your parents were pleased with that decision?
A: They were. You know, it’s a tough world out there for musicians. It’s very competitive. I must have been talented enough that they encouraged me, and all their professional colleagues encouraged me. So I felt more comfortable in that respect. If I didn’t have musician parents, it may have been harder for me to come to that decision.
Q: Was it difficult to break into that world?
A: It is difficult. It takes a considerable amount of work and audition preparation, especially to get into an orchestra. It’s very rewarding, but it’s also kind of stressful for a lot of people.
Q: How much practicing do you have to do at this point?
A: We all have to come prepared at the first rehearsal because if we’re all learning notes, then it’s a waste of time. A lot of us have projects that we do outside the symphony, whether it’s chamber music, teaching or solo performances. It also takes several hours a day just to maintain a great level of technique. So, even though it’s not a 9-to-5 job, we’re actually doing a lot of work related to the instrument.
Q: Is this the first you’ve been a member of an orchestra?
A: A full-time, professional orchestra, yes. Obviously, I’ve had many youth orchestras and festivals, things like that. And I subbed with the Phoenix Symphony a bunch when I was a master’s student. But this is the first full-time job that I won, so I guess I should just say that it’s my first job.
Q: What would you say has been the highlight of your career?
A: One would be the first time I was onstage as a gainfully employed full-time musician in an orchestra. And one of the biggest things for me is when I was a student at New England Conservatory, they were doing a little exchange with Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in Venezuala and I got to sit right in front of Gustavo Dudamel for a morning and read a Beethoven symphony. It was one of the most amazing moments in my life.
Q: Is there a performance this year that you’re most looking forward to?
A: I’m looking forward to a lot of the repertoire. I love Shostakovich 10, which we’re playing later on. I love “West Side Story,” which we’re playing right away. The Beethoven violin concerto, the Brahms violin concertos. I love especially when we have soloists because that’s the time when we get to really be inspired by such mastery of the instrument.
Reach the reporter at ed.masley@arizonarepublic .com or 602-444-4495.

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