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Matthew Rombaum, Viola

Matthew Rombaum started playing the viola at age 12 in Oklahoma City. He had accelerated quickly and was playing professionally at age 14. He attended his last two years of high school at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, and completed undergraduate studies at Western Illinois University and University of Michigan. Rombaum also holds graduate degrees from the Juilliard School and Mannes College. His primary teachers have included Roland Vamos and Lillian Fuchs. After graduation, he won a position with the prestigious New World Symphony in Miami as a principal viola. He also was a founding member of the Plymouth String Quartet in Miami. After completing two years at New World, he won a job with the Kansas City Symphony and has been a member of the orchestra since 1994.

Ten questions about me:

What is your earliest musical memory?

My parents had a record of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I would play it over and over and over....I think I was two or three.

How did you choose your instrument?

It chose me. I had missed the one day of school when everyone got to pick what string instrument they wanted to play. The only instrument left was one viola in the last row.

When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?

My orchestra director took the classroom on a field trip to hear the Oklahoma Symphony. I knew that's what I wanted to do for a living immediately after that concert.

What is your favorite thing about performing music?

Sharing my soul with other musicians and the audience. How often are people allowed to do that in life? It is truly an honor.

What is the most challenging work for your instrument?

The 24 Caprices by Paganini. They were written for the violin and are very difficult. The viola being a much larger instrument makes them even more challenging and awkward.

What songs/albums are in your iPod/MP3 Player/CD Player right now?

Mozart String Quartets performed by Quartetto Italiano.

Who is your most inspiring composer?

Bach and Mozart

What is the best part about being a musician in the Kansas City Symphony?

Being paid to play. It is truly a privilege that I am thankful for.

What is your most memorable performance with the Kansas City Symphony?

Performing on the same stage with Rosemary Clooney and Ray Charles. They were really good!

Which composer would you most like to have dinner with? And what would you serve or where would you eat?

Mozart. Plaza 3 Steakhouse