Joan DerHovsepian takes up the role, having previously served as acting principal and associate principal viola for the orchestra


Violist Joan DerHovsepian | Houston Symphony

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As it embarks on its 2023-24 season, the Houston Symphony has announced that it has filled two principal positions and two full-time musician roles in the orchestra: principal viola, principal harp, third horn and assistant principal horn.

Among the appointments is Joan DerHovsepian, who takes up the role of principal viola. DerHovsepian first joined the viola section of the Houston Symphony in 1999, hired by Christoph Eschenbach, won the audition for associate principal viola in the fall of 2010 during the tenure of Hans Graf, and now begins serving as principal with music director Juraj Valcuha. DerHovsepian was formerly principal viola of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as guest principal viola with the Chicago and Cincinnati symphonies.

She is artist teacher of viola at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, with many of her former students going on to win jobs in orchestras around the world. DerHovsepian is regular guest faculty for the New World Symphony and has given masterclasses in the study of orchestral excerpts for viola students of the Juilliard School, the New England Conservatory and the University of Melbourne Conservatorium.

DerHovsepian was the violist of the award-winning Everest Quartet, top prize winners at the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. She was the second prize recipient of the Primrose International Viola Competition. She attended the Eastman School of Music studying with violist James Dunham, and the Hochschule fur Musik in Freiburg Germany, with violist Kim Kashkashian.

Allegra Lilly joins the Houston Symphony as principal harp, having held the position of principal harp of the St. Louis Symphony for ten seasons.

Brian Mangrum takes up the position of third horn, while Nathan Cloeter joins the symphony as assistant principal/utility horn. Both players studied at Rice University with Houston Symphony principal horn William VerMeulen.

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