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Meet the Musicians

Meet a Musician: Sophia Mockler

A close-up image of Sophia Mockler, a woman with blond hair, looking off camera and smiling, holding a violin.

Minnesota Orchestra musician since: 2019

Position: Second Violin

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Education: Princeton University, Yale School of Music


How did you first become involved in music? 

My first encounter with classical music was when I was five years old and a violinist came to my school to do a solo concert, offering lessons. I immediately fell in love with the instrument and began taking lessons soon after. My teacher, Carmit Zori, happened to live only a few blocks away and was the creative director of the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society. I would go to her concerts every month, hoping that one day I would be up on that stage. In 2019 I had the privilege of performing the Mendelssohn Octet with her and my graduate school teacher, Ani Kavafian, on that very stage. It was such an incredible experience to play alongside two of my most influential mentors and be a part of the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society. 

Coming from the northeast, what’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make to life in Minnesota?

Since moving here I’ve discovered that the Skyway is a life saver. Don’t get me wrong—it’s taken me three years to not get lost every time I walk inside, but I’m definitely getting the hang of it!    

In addition to playing violin you have also sung opera. Tell us more about how you’ve maintained this practice alongside your violin study.  

I have always loved singing ever since I was young. Growing up I was a member of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, which allowed me to perform with some incredible artists. I knew I wanted to continue singing in college, so I joined the Chamber Choir and took private voice lessons. The pinnacle of my singing career has definitely been the opportunity to play the role of Dido in Henry Purcell’s opera, Dido and Aeneas, at Princeton my senior year. Although it was challenging to find the time to sing and play violin, I continued to study privately in graduate school with Doris Yarick-Cross. One thing that she would always say in lessons was that I should sing like I was drawing the bow across the string of my violin. Funnily enough, my violin teachers have also suggested that I play the violin as though I were singing. 

Are there pieces or upcoming concerts on the Minnesota Orchestra’s calendar that you’re most excited about?

This year there are so many incredible artists coming to Orchestra Hall, but I am most excited for the concert on May 12th with Leonidas Kavakos. He will be playing Bach's Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052R, as well as conducting Brahms Symphony No. 1. I had the opportunity to play with Kavakos a few years ago at the Verbier Festival, and was absolutely blown away by his artistry and infectious musicality. I am so thrilled to be able to hear him play again and be conducted by him!

What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not performing or rehearsing music? 

I absolutely love going to museums in the Twin Cities, and whenever I get the chance I go to the Minneapolis Institute of Art and just spend hours there. I grew up going to art museums with my parents every weekend in New York, so it feels like a little part of home. When I don’t have a concert on the weekends, I try to see some of the other incredible musical ensembles nearby, such as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. I also am a huge fan of jazz, so I try to infuse that into my life whenever I can.   

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?  

My advice would be to figure out what kind of music you love to play, and latch onto that. I thought I wanted to be a chamber musician my whole life and then I spent three summers at the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland, and had the opportunity to play under some of the most incredible conductors, like Simon Rattle and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and I was hooked. I thought to myself, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Try to surround yourself with mentors and peers that challenge you every day. It’s always good to be around people that are better than you and that inspire you to work harder.