Valerie Heywood was the Principal Violist of the Buffalo Philharmonic from 1991 to 2017. Prior to this position, she entered the orchestra with Semyon Bychkov as music director. As a child, Heywood heard Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante on the radio. It was this piece that inspired her to play viola. She is a native of Detroit, Michigan, where she studied with members of the Detroit Symphony, including principal violist Nathan Gordon.
Heywood holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, where she was a full scholarship student of Frances Bundra; and a master’s degree from The Juilliard School as a full scholarship student of Lillian Fuchs.
After Juilliard, she remained in New York to pursue chamber music and solo opportunities. She toured and recorded with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. She also performed with Barge Music, Con Brio Ensemble, the Virtuosi Ensemble, New York City Opera, and the American Symphony. She was featured in a BBC television broadcast, “Artists in New York.”
She is a successful studio artist, performing on many movie scores and recording with artists such as Diana Ross, Cher, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Marcus Miller. She holds two platinum records for her studio work, which includes recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, RCA, Atlantic Records, and Musical Heritage.
Her private students have gone on to Julliard, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute, Peabody and Eastman. She has held faculty positions for 20 years at Fredonia State College and Buffalo State College. In the summer, she packs her camping gear and brings her dog to Jackson, Wyoming to play in the Grand Teton Music Festival.
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