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Cordula Merks

Cordula Merks playing violin


Office 308


Courses Taught

Applied Lessons

Violin Performance Class


Examen Tweede Fase (MM), Amsterdam Conservatory

Performer's Certificate, Northern Illinois University


San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, Concertmaster

Seattle Symphony, First Assistant Concertmaster


What is your hometown?

Born in Bonn, Germany. (Grew up in Tilburg, Netherlands.)

What is your favorite recording?

Too many to list, but here are a couple: Schubert Piano Trio with Cortot-Thibaud-Casals and Bruckner Symphony No. 9 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (Claudio Abbado conducting).

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Spending time with my family and traveling (exploring the beauty, food, and culture of places).

Who were your major teachers?

Shmuel Ashkenasi, Herman Krebbers, and Jaring Walta.

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

How to organize their practicing and to develop clear goals.

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

Hearing the Vermeer Quartet in concert for the first time (in Holland). I decided at that concert that I had to study with Shmuel Ashkenasi.

What is your unrealized project?

I dream of running my own chamber music festival!

Violinist Cordula Merks is the Concertmaster of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Previous positions include First Assistant concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony and concertmaster of Germany's Essen Philharmonic, Bochum Symphony and Bergische Symphony. She has also served as guest concertmaster for many orchestras, including the Houston Symphony, American Ballet Theater at the Met, Dresden Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Portuguese National Opera.

When not playing in the orchestra, Cordula enjoys playing as a soloist and as a chamber musician and has performed in the US, Israel and all over Europe.

Cordula was born in Germany and spent her childhood in Holland. She started playing the violin at the age of 6 and was accepted to study at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague at the age of 12. Her teachers have included Theodora Geraets, Jaring Walta, Shmuel Ashkenasi, and Herman Krebbers, and she holds degrees from the Amsterdam Conservatory and Northern Illinois University.

Ms. Merks has won prizes at all Dutch national competitions, at various concerto competitions and at several international competitions, including the International Johannes Brahms Competition in Austria.

Cordula is married to contrabassoonist Mike Gamburg, and together they have two daughters, Mia, and Emmie.