Introducing Amy Semes, associate principal second violin

Introducing Amy Semes, associate principal second violin

Members of the second violin section backstage getting ready to play the 2019 Opening Night concert.

This month, we are pleased to welcome two new musicians to the orchestra:Amy Semes, associate principal second violin and Isaac Schultz, associate principal bassoon. Get to know these remarkable musicians as they share their stories.

Amy Semes, born in Broomall, Pennsylvania, graduated from Rice University, Shepherd School of Music in 2019, where she received a Master of Music, studying with Kathleen Winkler. In 2017, she graduated from the Juilliard School with a Bachelor of Music, studying with Naoko Tanaka. At Juilliard, she held a Gluck Community Service fellowship for three years. She has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the New World Symphony. Amy has previously attended the Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, and the Spoleto Festival USA.

Amy and her sisters hiking near American Lake in Colorado.

You were a contracted substitute before joining the orchestra. How does it feel to be officially part of the team?
I could not be happier! After playing with the orchestra for a few months, I was so welcomed by the second violin section and the whole orchestra. I felt so lucky to be able to play with the Houston Symphony, and I was very nervous going into the audition because I really wanted to continue to play with them. It is a privilege to be able to make music with such amazing musicians!

What are the main responsibilities of the associate principal position in your section?
The main responsibilities as an associate principal are to support the principal, MuChen, in achieving her goals for the section. That involves ensuring that I am unified with her and the other string principals and helping to relay that unity to the rest of the section.

Amy crossing the finish line of her most recent half marathon in 2019.

How did you choose your instrument?
I have three sisters—two older and one younger—and I had been tagging along to my older sisters’ violin lessons since I was a baby. Since we already had a set of small violins and were already making trips to our violin teacher’s house, it was natural that I started playing. Our teacher was also quite eager to start teaching me!

What hobbies and other activities do you enjoy?
I like running, hiking, biking—anything that involves being outside, really. I also recently got an Australian Shepherd puppy, Haven. I’ve had a lot of fun with her so far!

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