Get to Know the DSSO: Erin Aldridge, Concertmaster

Name: Erin Aldridge

Member of DSSO since: 2003

DSSO Position: Concertmaster

Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Master of Music in Violin and Chamber Music Performance at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Doctor of Musical Art in Violin Performance at University of Wisconsin – Madison

What made you decide to pursue a career in music? 
I never really had a definitive moment. I think I always knew that was what I wanted to do.

What has been the highlight of your career thus far? 
As a performer I have been lucky to have had many memorable moments throughout my career and choosing just one would be too difficult. I will say very honestly that performing a solo with the DSSO is definitely one of the highlights. I love this orchestra very much and to make music with my amazing colleagues who also happen to be great friends is truly a gift. I would also say a highlight was the first time I got to play in a rock band (which was through the DSSO Bridge Sessions when I worked with Ryan Van Slooten). While I grew up fiddling and playing alternative styles, I never knew how much I would love playing rock and the experience absolutely blew my mind (and still does). As a teacher, seeing my students perform and being able to see their growth and love for the instrument is always a highlight for me.

Photo of Erin Aldridge’s Grandmother that she keeps in her violin case

What made you choose to play violin? 
I was two and a half when I apparently told my mom “I want to “pway the bioyin”. I started shortly there after on a tiny 1/10th size violin. The biggest influence for me was my grandmother who was a violinist in Toronto, Canada. She was one of my biggest supporters and an amazing woman. There is a picture of her with her violin that lives in my case and she gets to go with me to all my concerts.

What’s the most challenging thing about playing the violin? 
Everything! Seriously, everything! There isn’t anything easy about playing the violin and I pretty much think violinists are just gluttons for punishment. One of the most challenging things is training your brain to work for you and not against you. Everything you instinctively want to do on the instrument is generally the polar opposite of what you should do. For instance, your conductor says “louder, more sound”. The instinct is to tense your muscles and force the sound when you really need to relax everything, use gravity, and place the bow in an advantageous spot. It messes with your mind all the time.

Do you have a favorite piece of orchestral repertoire to play and/or listen to? 
That’s just a mean question…I have too many favorites. It definitely depends if am playing or listening (sometimes that is not the same). Having said that, if I was pressed to choose 1 or 2, Shostakovich 5th Symphony is one of my all-time favorites to play and listen to. I had a wonderful Youth Symphony experience performing that piece in Scotland and that experience and love for the piece has stayed with me. I also LOVE Beethoven Symphony No. 7 2nd movement…the rest of the symphony is awesome but nothing beats the 2nd movement. I am actually not just saying that because I am plugging our next concert in March…it is one of my absolute favorites (just ask my Music History Students).

When you’re not performing, what do you do for fun? 
I am a big movie-a-holic and I am a rabid football fan. I love spending time with my friends doing a variety of things and I have recently gotten into hiking and having fun exploring all the trails around the area.

What’s one thing you hope people take away from a DSSO concert? 
I hope people are able to be excited by what they hear and know that every musician on that stage pours everything into our performances. We definitely feed off of the energy that our audiences bring on concert nights.

Do you have any advice for those looking to pursue a career in music? 
Open up yourself to all possibilities and experiences. It is very easy to get very narrow in scope…”I will only play the violin, I will only play classical, I only want to play in an orchestra”. There is nothing wrong with knowing what you want to do and aiming for those goals, but don’t dismiss an opportunity that offers a different musical perspective. Take risks and put yourself out there. It will only enhance your overall musicianship and quite possibly give you some career options that you would have never expected.