Acting Assistant Principal Viola
Violist Sarah Switzer joined the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2022 and steps into the role of acting assistant principal viola at the beginning of the Orchestra’s 2023-24 season. She earned her master’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music as a student of Ivo-Jan van der Werff. She holds a bachelor’s degree in the History of Art from Yale University, where she studied with Wendy Sharp. Recipient of the Yale Wrexham Prize for Music, the T. Whitney Blake Prize and the Sharp Prize for Music, Switzer served as principal viola of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and performed Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto with the symphony orchestra in 2018 as a winner of the William Waite Concerto Competition. Her undergraduate thesis on French medieval manuscript illumination earned her the A. Conger Goodyear Fine Arts Award in 2019.
She has attended the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Music Academy of the West and the Tanglewood Music Center, where she won the Maurice Schwartz Prize in 2018 and, in summer 2020, served as a New Fromm fellow, focusing on the performance and recording of contemporary classical music.
An enthusiastic chamber musician, Switzer has worked extensively with the Takács and Juilliard String Quartets, and participated in master classes led by Roberto Díaz, Martin Beaver, and the Rolston, Argus and Calidore String Quartets. She has previously studied with Cynthia Phelps, Richard O’Neill, Karen Dreyfus and Ed Gazouleas.
A native of Denver, Colorado, Switzer began her musical studies on violin under the tutelage of James and Jacqueline Maurer.