Meet the Utah Symphony's new musicians

Music • The orchestra has hired four new string players, including a principal cellist. Here's a brief introduction.

Published October 20th 2014 8:58 am



The Utah Symphony has hired four new string players, including a principal cellist, Rainer Eudeikis. Here's a brief introduction.

Rainer Eudeikis

Principal cello

Age • 24

Hometown • Born in Amarillo, Texas; lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until high school, then moved to Denver

Education and professional experience • Studied at the University of Michigan, Indiana University and Curtis Institute; appointed to replace longtime principal cellist Ryan Selberg, who died last year, while still a student at the Curtis. Eudeikis is also principal cellist at Colorado's Central City Opera and has performed at festivals in Germany, Turkey, Spain, England, New York City and Aspen, Colo.

Eudeikis spent part of his childhood on a cattle ranch in Texas. "Anyone who meets me today might be surprised to know that I've bottle-fed newborn calves, run to escape from charging livestock, and that I used to have my own horse, named Babe," he said.

He began his cello studies when he was 6. "My mother, a professional clarinetist, had always wanted to play a string instrument but didn't have the opportunity to do so," he said. "She particularly loved the cello -- and here I am."

Living in Denver, he said, he was well aware of the reputation of the Utah Symphony and especially of its cello section. He also looks forward to resuming hiking and snowboarding now that he's back in the Western U.S. Other interests include reading, eating good food (especially Korean, thanks to his Korean girlfriend), traveling and studying foreign languages. He reported that his Spanish is "pretty good, but getting progressively worse," but his Korean is improving.

Hanah Stuart

Assistant principal second violin

Age • 27

Hometown • Libertyville, Ill.

Education and professional experience • Juilliard School of Music (concertmaster of The Juilliard Orchestra and Juilliard Chamber Orchestra); San Diego Symphony, Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra and YouTube Symphony Orchestra (concertmaster).

Stuart's interest in the violin was sparked at age 5 when she saw a Boston Pops concert on television. "I got up and pointed to the violinists and said, 'That's what I want to do,' " she remembered. She made her solo debut at age 10 with suburban Chicago's Southwest Symphony.

Stuart also plays viola -- she said she "got more gigs doing that than the violin in school" -- and holds a rare distinction among Utah Symphony players: She has appeared Off Broadway, portraying a violinist who loses her Stradivarius in "The Morini Strad."

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The Utah Symphony has hired four new string players, including a principal cellist, Rainer Eudeikis. Here's a brief introduction.

Rainer Eudeikis

Principal cello

Age • 24

Hometown • Born in Amarillo, Texas; lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until high school, then moved to Denver

Education and professional experience • Studied at the University of Michigan, Indiana University and Curtis Institute; appointed to replace longtime principal cellist Ryan Selberg, who died last year, while still a student at the Curtis. Eudeikis is also principal cellist at Colorado's Central City Opera and has performed at festivals in Germany, Turkey, Spain, England, New York City and Aspen, Colo.

Eudeikis spent part of his childhood on a cattle ranch in Texas. "Anyone who meets me today might be surprised to know that I've bottle-fed newborn calves, run to escape from charging livestock, and that I used to have my own horse, named Babe," he said.

He began his cello studies when he was 6. "My mother, a professional clarinetist, had always wanted to play a string instrument but didn't have the opportunity to do so," he said. "She particularly loved the cello -- and here I am."

Living in Denver, he said, he was well aware of the reputation of the Utah Symphony and especially of its cello section. He also looks forward to resuming hiking and snowboarding now that he's back in the Western U.S. Other interests include reading, eating good food (especially Korean, thanks to his Korean girlfriend), traveling and studying foreign languages. He reported that his Spanish is "pretty good, but getting progressively worse," but his Korean is improving.

Hanah Stuart

Assistant principal second violin

Age • 27

Hometown • Libertyville, Ill.

Education and professional experience • Juilliard School of Music (concertmaster of The Juilliard Orchestra and Juilliard Chamber Orchestra); San Diego Symphony, Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra and YouTube Symphony Orchestra (concertmaster).

Stuart's interest in the violin was sparked at age 5 when she saw a Boston Pops concert on television. "I got up and pointed to the violinists and said, 'That's what I want to do,' " she remembered. She made her solo debut at age 10 with suburban Chicago's Southwest Symphony.

Stuart also plays viola -- she said she "got more gigs doing that than the violin in school" -- and holds a rare distinction among Utah Symphony players: She has appeared Off Broadway, portraying a violinist who loses her Stradivarius in "The Morini Strad." [2] =>

Before joining the Utah Symphony in January, Stuart said, she "honestly knew nothing [about the state] except that it was a good job and a good position." She is learning to ski, however, adding the sport to a list of interests that includes Ultimate Frisbee, surfing, football, track (she was a hurdler until falling on her wrist), lacrosse (until almost breaking her pinkie), hiking and autocross, which she explained is time-trial car racing. She's a former barista who now indulges her addiction at Cafe on 1st, and oh yes, she also enjoys painting.

"I don't like sitting still," Stuart noted.

Silu Fei

Viola

Age • 31

Hometown • Chengdu, Sichuan, China

Education and professional experience • Shanghai Conservatory, Colburn Conservatory of Music; Oregon Symphony

Fei started as a violinist in his southwest China hometown, which he noted is also home to pandas and spicy food. He switched to viola in junior high at his teacher's request when the string quartet needed a violist, but still teaches violin as well as viola. He came to Los Angeles in 2005 to study at the Colburn School and landed a spot at the Oregon Symphony five days before graduation. Fei also performed in the San Francisco Symphony for a season and played on Michael Tilson Thomas' Grammy Award-winning recording of Mahler's Eighth Symphony.

The violist said he hasn't yet joined the ranks of Utah Symphony players on the nearby ski slopes, but he has been impressed with the beautiful scenery and the quality of the fly-fishing here. He's also an avid reader and audiophile. Fei's wife, Ningning Jin, is a violist for the Buffalo Philharmonic. "I hope one day she can have the opportunity to join here," he said.

Ted Merritt

Bass

Age • 28

Hometown • Pittsburgh

Education and orchestra experience • Rice University, Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University; principal with Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony and Civic Orchestra of Chicago; guest principal with Hong Kong Philharmonic and CityMusic Cleveland

Merritt began his musical studies on violin at age 4, but switched to the bass when he was 13 because it "makes stuff rattle." A native of Pittsburgh, he remains stoutly loyal to the black-and-gold -- the Pirates, Penguins and Steelers.

Like Stuart, Merritt is an autocross enthusiast, but his real passion is outdoor sports. "I love the mountains -- mostly boarding, but also hiking and mountain biking," he said.

When he learned of the Utah Symphony audition, he thought, "I have to win this audition. I will go snowboarding more than anyone taking this audition." [3] =>

Fortunately for Merritt, he won the job and arrived in Salt Lake City in January.

Catherine Reese Newton

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This week at Abravanel Hall

Russian-American conductor and pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn will do double duty in his Utah Symphony debut. Solzhenitsyn, son of Nobel-Prize winning writer and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn, will lead the Utah Symphony in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 18, Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 7 and Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis,” conducting the Mozart from the keyboard.

When • Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25, 8 p.m.

Where • Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $18-$69 ($5 more on concert day) at www.utahsymphony.org; discounts available for students, patrons under 30 and groups

Finishing Touches • Friday’s 10 a.m. rehearsal will be ticketed and open to the public; tickets are $16.

Master class • Solzhenitsyn will give a master class to University of Utah piano students Thursday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. in Dumke Recital Hall on the fourth floor of the U.’s Gardner Hall, 1375 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City; the public is invited to observe at no charge.