Shmuel Katz steps up in the section as associate principal viola, while Tal First joins as assistant principal viola

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Shmuel Katz and Tal First |

New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra announced two new appointments last week, both in the viola section.

Shmuel Katz had been an associate member of the orchestra for a decade and has now been appointed associate principal viola. He serves as principal viola of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and American Ballet Theatre Orchestra. He has previously served as the associate principal viola of the New York City Ballet Orchestra and principal viola of the Pennsylvania Ballet. He also appeared as concertmaster and soloist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Carnegie Hall and has toured with the orchestra in Europe, Asia and North America.

He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music where he studied violin and viola with Pinchas Zukerman, Michael Tree and Patinka Kopec. Before leaving for New York, he studied in Israel with Haim Taub, Ora Shiran and Yair Kless. He also performed in masterclasses given by Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Dorothy DeLay, Josef Gingold, Joseph Silverstein and Alexander Schneider.

Katz serves on the viola faculty and the orchestral performance programme faculty at Manhattan School of Music. He has previously taught at New York University and SUNY Purchase. Katz has given masterclasses at TON at Bard College and at North Carolina School of the Arts.

Fellow Israeli violist Tal First joins the MET Orchestra viola section as assistant principal. He has been a member of Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and worked as a substitute with the Sarasota Orchestra and the Princeton Symphony. First holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Li Lin and Itzhak Perlman.

First is on the roster of the NYC based CiM, Concerts in Motion, which gives him the opportunity to play for audiences that cannot attend standard concert halls.