Stephen Price, Viola

Steven Price

Stephen joined the Oregon Symphony (Portland Symphony at that time) in 1972 after attending Grant High School here in Portland, Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, and graduate school in Seattle. “I still remember my first impression of the orchestra at my first rehearsal. When the music said forte, everybody went POW!, unlike the student orchestras I had been used to. Isaac Stern was our first soloist after I joined, and he pointed out a couple of interesting things about the Bartok Concerto he was playing.” Back then, most of the musicians had other jobs and the rehearsals were in the evenings and on weekends. Stephen also performed the first of his annual recitals in 1972, in order to show his family and friends what he had learned in school.

The next year Larry Smith became the conductor and with David Hyslop running the office, the orchestra began to improve both musically and financially. About this time Stephen quit his part–time job in order to concentrate on his playing. That turned out to be the right decision, because the both he and the orchestra have improved constantly since then.

As Portland and its music scene have grown and evolved, Stephen changed his annual viola recital format to emphasize new pieces of music by Portland composers. He began commissioning a new piece for each year’s concert. So far he has commissioned 21 new pieces for viola, accompanied by a variety of other instruments.

Outside of the Oregon Symphony Stephen has enjoyed 3 decades of marriage to wife Beth, an accountant with the Port of Portland, who has learned to love his hobby of auto restoration and repair. Her favorite car is their 1967 Lincoln Continental, which they use to pull their 1937 16’ Gypsy vacation trailer. “That’s what we take to Lopez Island every summer.” Their other cars are a 1936 Ford sedan, a ’74 Dodge Dart (his), and an ’89 Lincoln Town Car (hers). “We both take the bus to work on weekdays. That’s how we can afford to keep four cars. At one time we had five cars, all V–8’s!”

Stephen also golfs weekly, takes part in Beth’s bowling team, and goes downhill skiing a couple of times each winter.

Outside of the symphony and his annual viola recitals, Stephen’s music playing primarily consists of fiddle tunes for friends and family.

For more about this musician, click here.

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