Reared in a musical family, Catherine Brubaker has siblings in the symphony orchestras of Minnesota, Houston and Tucson. Both her parents were active music educators in Arizona, where she grew up. An avid performer of chamber music, she has been a guest artist on WFMT “Live from Studio One” radio broadcasts, and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts series. Other recent guest appearances include performances with the Pilgrim Chamber Players, Northwestern University’s Winter Music Festival, Rembrandt Chamber Players and the Civitas Ensemble. She has performed as soloist with the Kenosha (Wis.) Symphony and as principal viola of Music of the Baroque.

Why did you choose your instrument?

I started on violin. During my sophomore year of high school, I played viola in a string quartet and in a youth orchestra. I realized that I really liked playing the middle voice in those ensembles. By the time I graduated from high school, I wanted to major on the viola in college.

What works are you most looking forward to performing this season, and why?

Playing Verdi’s Macbeth with Maestro Muti was a wonderful way to start the season. It is so interesting to get a deeper insight into Verdi’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s story from Maestro Muti. There are so many hidden musical details that enhance the story, and he enjoys communicating those details to us. I’m looking forward to the performances of Schubert’s symphonies we will be doing throughout the year [in January, March, and June] with Maestro Muti. I love Schubert, and it is rare for the CSO to play so many of his symphonies in a single season. I’m also looking forward to the May performances of Strauss’ Four Last Songs, which are so moving and beautiful.

Offstage, I like to: Garden, read, walk on the Evanston lakefront, do various “craft projects,” spend time with my family and friends.

What is your most memorable CSO performance?

I performed Mendelssohn’s Octet with Yo-Yo Ma and some CSO colleagues on a Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music concert one Sunday afternoon. While the experience of playing chamber music with someone like Yo-Yo Ma is amazing, it happened to be my birthday that day. At the end of the program, Yo-Yo led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday.” I will never forget being serenaded on the stage of Symphony Center by a full house of music lovers!

Favorite food or meal: Good cheese, raw oysters, champagne and dark chocolate desserts.
HOMETOWN: Tucson, Ariz.
YEAR JOINED THE CSO: 1989.
EDUCATION: The Juilliard School.
FULL BIO here.

VIDEO: Catherine Brubaker is part of the CSO’s Dream Out Loud Music Education Advocacy Campaign, which uses the experiences and stories of CSO members to inspire young musicians to continue their musical studies and to persevere during periods of challenge or frustration. For more information about Dream Out Loud, click here.