1. Faculty

Bettina Mussumeli

Violin; String and Piano Chamber

“Bettina Mussumeli plays with a colorful, passionate sound, and knows how to blend and how to soar, how to speak and how to sing.” —San Francisco Classical Voice

COURSES TAUGHT

  • Private Lessons
  • Chamber Music: Strings and Piano

EDUCATION

  • MM, The Juilliard School
  • BM, The Juilliard School

ENSEMBLES

  • Duo Rolla, 1983–Present
  • Ives Quartet, 2005–2015
  • Il Ruggiero Original Instrument Chamber Ensemble, 1995–1998
  • Le Vivaldiane Chamber Orchestra, 1993–1998
  • I Solisti Veniti, 1983–1992
  • Academy Orchestra London England, 1991–2001
  • Toronto Chamber Orchestra, 1991–2001
  • Chicago String Trio, 1983–1990
  • Orchestra Citta di Ferrara
  • Orchestra Toscanini of Parma
  • Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna
  • Orchestra del Teatro di Cagliari
  • Orchestra della Fenice

AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS

  • Concertmaster, I Solisti Veniti
  • Founder, Le Vivaldiane Chamber Orchestra
  • Founder, Il Ruggiero Original Instrument Chamber Ensemble

What is your hometown?

North Babylon, NY

What are you passionate about outside of music?

I love to eat and I love to cook. Anything from burritos to La Folie. I love art and one of my favorite things is losing myself in a museum. I love seeing the connections between the visual arts and music. I love good TV. I am a huge Star Trek fan and love sci-fi like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “I Zombi”. I also love documentaries. Anthony Bourdain has one of the most intelligent shows on television at the moment, combining food, culture, and politics.

Who were your major teachers?

Dorothy DeLay, Kato Havas, and Charlie Castelman.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

"There can be no doubt!" Meaning that when you step on stage you must have absolute confidence in your abilities and know that you are in control of every aspect of your performance. That, and, "Go practice!"

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

I wish they would tell me the moment they begin having pain or tension issues. I wish they would ask, "How do I practice this?" before they begin practicing a problematic passage.

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Music and the arts were always an integral part of my family life. I can remember seeing The Nutcracker ballet at four or five years old and thinking, “Wow...I want to be a part of this.” As a child, I studied ballet and piano and spent many hours listening to my parents record collection. I was particularly fascinated with a recording of the Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade. I loved the sound of the violin! When instruments were offered in school, I chose the violin, and the rest is history. The defining moment came when I was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College division and was surrounded by other students who were dedicated to excelling and perfecting their playing, and a faculty that was inspirational and pushed me to explore all aspects of violin playing and music making.

What was a turning point in your career?

Several years after joining I Solisti Veneti, I began to develop tension issues. I had the great fortune to work with a wonderful teacher, Kato Havas, who specializes in the elimination of tension in violin playing. She essentially taught me how to reboot my technique in a very natural and organic way. This enabled me to fix bad habits and form new healthy techniques, while continuing all of my professional commitments. Not only have her techniques helped me, but they form an integral part of my own teaching technique, and have helped all of my students in their own development.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I have no idea!

What is your daily practice routine?

I usually begin with warm-up exercises for the right arm, and move on to "basics". "Basics" are an individual set of exercises that fit into about 20 minutes and are suited to each individual’s needs. They can consist of shifting exercises, dexterity exercises, basic double stops—anything specific that you think you need to work on. For example, I always practice fifths and shifting exercises in my basics. I then move on to scales and arpeggios, difficult passages from the repertoire, and then leave time for playing through pieces or sections of pieces that I am working on. Of course, the order can change depending on the time available and the amount of rep I am working on, but I always warm up!

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Beethoven, Bach, and Tchaikovsky.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Venice in the 1700s. Some of the most beautiful as well as the most technically adventurous music for the violin has come from the Venetian composers.

What are your most important collaborations?

Dorothy DeLay, who taught me to think for myself and love the process, and Claudio Scimone, conductor of I Solisti Veneti, who taught me that the most important objective is to communicate with your audience.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Quincy Porter: String Quartets Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Naxos
Antonio Vivaldi: L’Estro Armonico, ERATO
Pergolesi: Concerto for Violin, ERATO
Antonio Vivaldi: Concerti “Amato Bene” and “L’Amoroso”, ERATO
Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Quartets, Op. 1, 2, and 3, Concerto
Schubert: Adagio and Rondo, D. 487, Concerto

What is your unrealized project?

Becoming a winemaker.