Violin / Concertmaster
Heather Wittels is a member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra first violin section; she was the co-Acting Assistant Concertmaster for the 2022-23 seasons. Heather serves as Concertmaster of the AIMS Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria, and Associate Concertmaster of the Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra in Cooperstown, New York. She is the Director of Chamber Music at the University of Chicago and serves as Artist Faculty at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, where she has taught violin excerpt class, audition class, and conducted and soloed with the string ensemble. In recent seasons she has performed the Brahms and Tchaikovsky violin concertos and the Beethoven Triple Concerto with orchestras in Chicago, where reviewers praised her “exquisite taste” and “immaculate technique”. In 2020-21 she was featured twice on Fourth Presbyterian Church’s popular Friday Noonday Concert series. Since 2012 she has appeared live in recital on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series at the Chicago Cultural Center, Wisconsin’s The Midday radio show, and Live from WFMT on the radio in Chicago. Her chamber music projects have been presented by the Live from WFMT radio show, the Illinois Holocaust Museum, the Star Theater in Cherry Valley, NY, and the Glimmerglass Festival, which showcased her production of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale in August 2018.
During the summers of 2013-2019, while at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, Ms. Wittels has programed, produced, and performed in an annually sold-out drama and music collaboration in a local venue; themes have included a Schubertiade, Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale, Brahms and the Schumanns, and Music and Letters from Russia. Ms. Wittels has a private violin studio in Chicago and teaches young violinists in collaboration with Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative, a program designed to support talented and motivated students from underrepresented backgrounds in classical music. She is a regular substitute violinist with both The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Wittels graduated cum laude from Yale University with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, with distinction. Subsequently she earned a Masters in Music and Graduate Diploma in violin performance in the studio of Malcolm Lowe at the New England Conservatory, as beneficiary of the 2007 Tourjée Alumni Award for graduate study. Ms. Wittels was a Fellow of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida and a three time Tanglewood Music Center Fellow. She made her solo debut in June 2001, performing the Khachaturian Violin Concerto with the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in Jordan Hall, Boston. The Boston Globe said she made a “dazzling impression”. In 2009, she gave the American premiere of the violin concerto Bulls of Bashan by Gavin Bryars at the Spoleto Festival USA, for which Strad Magazine praised her “pure, singing tone”. A native of Brookline, MA, Ms. Wittels began the violin at age three.