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Jonathan Vinocour

Jonathan Vinocour playing viola


Office 310


Courses Taught

Applied Lessons


MM, New England Conservatory

BA, Princeton University


San Francisco Symphony, Principal, 2009–Present

East Coast Chamber Orchestra, 2003–Present

St. Louis Symphony, Principal, 2007–2009

The nutty timbre, exquisite poise, and expressive vibrato of Jonathan Vinocour’s viola are among the orchestra’s greatest assets of the moment.”

— Financial Times


What is your hometown?

Rochester, NY

What is your favorite recording?

Purcell Fantasias by Hespèrion XX

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Getting outside.

Who were your major teachers?

Kim Kashkashian

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

Honestly, no single moment. Just many great experiences at summer music festivals, in particular.

What was a turning point in your career?

Switching from the drums to the viola in fourth grade.

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

Surgery, my original childhood dream before taking up the viola.

What is your daily practice routine?

No routine, I just try to play when I can (outside of work)!

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

Bach, Brahms, and Ravel.

What are your most important collaborations?

Chamber music with my orchestra colleagues, being a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, and playing as a guest with great string quartets.

What is your unrealized project?

Learning to conduct! And hiking the Appalachian Trail.


Jonathan Vinocour was appointed Principal Viola of the San Francisco Symphony in 2009 having previously served as Principal Viola of the Saint Louis Symphony and Guest Principal of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. Mr. Vinocour has appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony and the New World Symphony where he was recently a featured artist of their Viola Visions Festival alongside Tabea Zimmerman, Kim Kashkashian, Roberto Diaz, and Cynthia Phelps.

A sought-after chamber musician, he is a regular guest of festivals such as the Seattle Chamber Music Society, La Jolla SummerFest, Marlboro, Bridgehampton, Salt Bay Festivals and Chamberfest Cleveland. Chamber music partners have included Yefim Bronfman, Yo-Yo Ma, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and James Ehnes among others. He also performs frequently on the chamber music series of the San Francisco Symphony and as a recitalist and chamber musician on concert series around the country.

Vinocour graduated from Princeton University with a degree in chemistry and from the New England Conservatory where he studied with Kim Kashkashian. A dedicated teacher, he serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as well as the Aspen Music Festival and School and is a frequent coach at the New World Symphony. Vinocour plays on a 1784 Lorenzo Storioni viola on loan from the San Francisco Symphony.