VIOLIN, VIOLA, THEORY
South Asian-American violist Vijay Chalasani is a performer, scholar, teaching-artist, and
advocate for diversity and equity, whose work focuses on the performance practice of music of the last five centuries. Equally at home on both modern and historical violas, Chalasani has been featured as a soloist in repertoire ranging from Telemann and Graun to Walton and Feldman. An avid advocate for contemporary music, Chalasani was the soloist in the US premiere of Vinko Globokar’s chamber-theater piece Blinde Zeit with members of the Callithumpian Consort, supervised by the composer. He has also performed with violist-composer Garth Knox, pianist-conductor Stephen Drury, and the Inverted Space Ensemble; coached with composers Vijay Iyer, Kamala Sankaram, Brian Ferneyhough, Scott Wollschleger, and Nicole Mitchell; and has collaborated with the Guerrilla Composers Guild and others to actively commission new works for viola. Chalasani performs frequently on period instruments with ensembles such as American Bach Soloists, Boulder Bach Festival, Pacific MusicWorks, Sinfonia Spirituosa, Early Music Vancouver, and Albany Consort, as well as in chamber music performances of works from the classical and romantic eras on historical instruments. His research on original viola pedagogy and performance practices of the long 19th century has led to performance collaborations and conference presentations at the Universities of Oxford and Huddersfield (UK), as well as a recording of works by Tchaikovsky and Fuchs made by the Accordes! International Chamber Orchestra released in 2020.
Since becoming a permanent resident of Canada in winter 2023, Chalasani has performed with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, and as a volunteer chorister with the Joie de Vivre Community Choir. In addition to the concert stage, Chalasani often performs in less traditional venues such as bars, cafes, and house concerts, and has appeared in cross-genre performances with a wide range of artists including rock band Third Eye Blind, hip-hop orchestra Jazz Mafia, and indie-folk group Americana Orchestra. Born in Northern California, he is grateful to now reside on Treaty One territory in Winnipeg with his wife Ruth Denton.
What is your education?
Doctoral Candidate, Music Performance [ABD] — University of Washington
Master of Music in Performance, Secondary Emphasis in Early Music — San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Bachelor of Music in Performance — California State University, Sacramento
Suzuki Violin Teacher Training Books 1-4 with Master Teacher Judy Bossuat (Dallas Suzuki Institute, École de Musique Suzuki Lyon)
What makes your lessons different from the rest?
I believe that every student needs an individually tailored learning plan that will help prepare them for life—both on and off stage. As a teacher, I strive to be flexible with my teaching styles to reach all students in the best way for them. I also encourage parents to be present and active parts of their student’s learning process, as learning and growth can and should occur on the days between lessons as well.
What do you love about teaching?
I love sharing the joys of music with my students. It is incredibly rewarding to see my students grow every week as both musicians and human beings, and experiencing beautiful music with them makes it even better. I also care deeply about giving back to my communities and creating warm, welcoming spaces for my students in the same way so many dedicated teachers did for me over my years of study.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about music lessons?
Learning music is both a gift and a journey. You can give that gift to someone you love at any point, but why not start that wonderful journey now!