Grant Park Orchestra’s new violist, 21-year-old Marlea Simpson

Posted on: July 12, 2016

“If you’re one of the 300,000 people estimated to take in a Grant Park Music Festival concert this summer, cast your gaze—and tune your ear—in the direction of the new viola player, a 21-year-old wunderkind who still has another year of college ahead of her,” writes Heidi Stevens in the Chicago Tribune on July 1. “Marlea Simpson, a native of suburban Dallas, first came to Chicago in 2014 to take part in Project Inclusion, a partnership between the Grant Park Music Festival and Chicago Sinfonietta that aims to diversify orchestra ensembles. She was a freshman at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio when an instructor encouraged her to apply…. Project Inclusion pairs young career musicians with Grant Park Orchestra professionals for one-on-one mentoring and lessons. The young musicians form a string quartet that performs at several Grant Park Music Festival concerts … and they also travel … to perform for audiences that might not otherwise be exposed to live classical music.” Simpson later auditioned for a permanent spot in this season’s Grant Park Orchestra. She speaks about her experiences in Project Inclusion and at Grant Park in the Summer issue of Symphony magazine.

Posted July 12, 2016

Photo of Marlea Simpson by Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune