Wendy Keyes, viola

Years playing with the PSO
: since Dec 2021
Lives in: Portsmouth, NH

How old were you when you started playing the viola? Why did you chose the viola?

My flute-playing mother taught my sister and me the soprano and alto recorders as foundation instruments. I studied violin before switching to viola in grade nine. I won a scholarship to a summer music camp on the viola and discovered my destiny as a violist!

What do you like about playing with a symphony orchestra?

I enjoy the camaraderie with other dedicated musicians and appreciate the effort required of everyone to deliver a polished, finished product to our audience.

What is your favorite piece of music to play on viola?

Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata; Schumann’s Märchenbilder (“Fairy Tale Pictures”); and the six Cello Suites by Bach.

Tell us about your musical education.

I hold a Diploma in performance from New England Conservatory where I was a student of both Eugene Lehner and Scott Nickrenz, and Master of Music in performance from UMass Lowell as a private student and member of the scholarship string quartet under George Neikrug.

Do you play with any groups outside of the PSO?

Since April 2021, I have met regularly with three of my chamber music friends who live in NYC using the audio-only, Jamulus platform on a private server. Latency is almost negligible. Yay for technology! We have explored much of the standard string quartet literature together, as well as some unfamiliar pieces by Onslow, Fanny Mendelssohn, Chadwick, and George Walker.

I am a regular participant at the Chamber Music Conference held each summer at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY.

Do you have any accolades you want to share?

Along with my husband of nearly 43 years, we are founders of a research university in Saudi Arabia. I was responsible for creating a cultural environment for the 126 nationalities represented in the faculty, staff, and graduate student population.

During my tenure, the newly-created Office of the Arts grew to a vibrant five-person team (folks from the UK, Italy, and France) that presented over 60 events per academic year with our talented amateur pool in music performance, theatre, poetry-reading, and the visual arts, as well as invitations to professional artists such as the Globe Theatre of London, throat singers from Mongolia, Tanzanian Tingatinga artists, and New York City jazz. The Office of the Arts’ programs enriched not just the university community, but various international consulates in the megalopolis of Jeddah.

How do you spend your time outside of the PSO?

As a recent retiree, I relish the freedom from structure that each day offers. We have five grandchildren; two who live locally and three who live on the west coast of the US, so outside of the PSO rehearsal schedule I have become the “jet-setting” Grammie! I also travel to care for my 95-year-YOUNG mother who still lives independently near Toronto. My travels take me to the Middle East to visit my husband. I also serve as a part-time consultant for the performing arts program at my previous workplace.