Central Oregon Symphony Leah Naftalin

Leah Naftalin, violinist and part-time concertmaster, confided that after playing in dozens of symphony orchestras, she finds the Central Oregon Symphony (COS) a refreshing change from the dog-eat-dog world of professional orchestras.
“COS is a group of diverse personalities sharing their desire to play their best for the community,” says Leah. “Michael Gesme challenges us with increasingly more complex pieces, knowing that eventually we’ll get it. He really believes in us, and that is strong motivation. And yes, eventually we do get it.”
Music runs in Leah’s veins. In addition to being raised by a mother who sang and played the piano, five siblings added trumpet, cello, violins, viola and an occasional flute to the family orchestra. Leah’s focus was the violin and her commitment grew under the instruction of a teacher who introduced her students to the idea that through music one can share their deepest feelings, that Leah could “sing her heart out through the strings” on
her violin.
Music as a medium of expression from musician to listener continues to be the passion that inspires Leah to perform, not for herself, but for her audience.
Though she loved violin, Leah wasn’t really interested in becoming a music major. She remembers thinking, “I’ll major in science,” and just keep playing the violin. A short-lived thought at best, and at Dickinson College, not far from her native York County farmland, Leah graduated with a bachelor of arts in music and a minor in physics.
Still residing in her home state of Pennsylvania, she began teaching while continuing to perform with chamber and regional orchestral musicians. After a time, slightly burned-out with fifty plus students and wanting to take her performance to the next level, Leah enrolled in the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where she graduated with a masters of music in violin performance, or as her husband calls it, her MVP.
While in D.C. Leah performed with the Alexandria Symphony and the Mid-Atlantic Symphony and with Altra Strings in venues like the French and Chinese Embassies. She opened Vivid Violins, a Suzuki Method violin studio, got married and welcomed her first child, Lucy. But the city noise, the poor air quality and traffic jams became the catalyst for the young family to move out of D.C.
In 2012 when husband Dave accepted a job in Prineville they gratefully headed west. Nested on five acres in Tumalo, with four llamas, five sheep, three alpacas, two dogs and new family member Tela, age 3, this “farm” girl seems far removed from the blonde-braided concertmaster.
When not performing with COS, Leah plays in the Central Oregon Chamber Orchestra, for Opera Bend, in the newly formed Shady Groove rockin’ improv group and for any chance to sing her heart out through those extraordinary strings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *