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Violinist brings global experience to the Q-C
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Naha Greenholtz is the new Quad City Symphony Orchestra concertmaster.
You could say violinist Naha Greenholtz is a citizen of the world.

The new 27-year-old concertmaster for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra not only travels the globe to perform masterworks of composers from many countries, she also has lived in several cities across Japan, Canada and the U.S.

Ms. Greenholtz was born in Kyoto, Japan, where she began studies on violin at age 3. Her father, Joe Greenholtz, is a Jewish native of Winnipeg, Canada, whose parents were Holocaust survivors from Poland and moved to Canada. He met his Japanese wife teaching English in Japan; she was one of his students.

"He wanted some adventure," Ms. Greenholtz said, noting her parents still live outside Vancouver, British Columbia, where she grew up. "I don't consider myself very Japanese. When I'm at home, we do Japanese New Years. I speak Japanese with my mother."

She goes back to Vancouver a couple times each year, but not Japan.

Her father trained as a diplomat in Ottawa, Ontario, so she lived there when she was in kindergarten and first grade. His first posting was in Japan, and the family lived in Tokyo for three years. They moved to Vancouver when he became director of an exchange program between the University of British Columbia and Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.

Ms. Greenholtz said it was easier to learn the violin at a very young age; it'scommon for kids studying the Suzuki method. "I think the idea is you learn it like a foreign language through immersion when you're very young," she said.

She made her solo debut at age 14, playing a Mendelssohn violin concerto with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and quickly was re-engaged for performances of concerti by Tchaikovsky and Mozart.

Ms. Greenholtz' s debut in a plush concert hall was "really exciting, as the winner of a competition," she said, noting her teacher was the orchestra concertmaster. "That was an incredible experience, to play in the hall (where) you always went to concerts."

Canada has an "open-minded education system," whereas "Japanese education can be very unforgiving of cultural or individual differences," Ms. Greenholtz said. "I think, culturally, they wanted us to be raised Canadian," she said of her parents.

At her high school in a Vancouver suburb, a majority of the students were Mandarin speakers who came from Hong Kong.

"It was really an incredible place," Ms. Greenholtz said. "You can go entire blocks and just feel you're in Hong Kong. The more elderly population doesn't necessarily speak English. To have such a huge Canadian city, you can feel like you're in a different country, which was unusual." She also studied Mandarin in high school.

She said she has played violin "as far back as I could remember" and has been "lucky to be able to find great teachers."

During her senior year, she did a New York String Orchestra Seminar during Christmas break and got to perform with an orchestra in Carnegie Hall. It was then she met her future husband, the clarinetist Kyle Knox.

Ms. Greenholtz received her bachelor of music degree from New York's famed Juilliard School in 2007. She performs on a 1778 Antonio Gragnani violin.

A participant in many prominent music festivals, Ms. Greenholtz has been featured at venues such as Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival (Maine), the Taos School of Music (New Mexico), the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi (Italy) and the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland).

Ms. Greenholtz also has had an active career as an orchestral musician. She was appointed associate concertmaster of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at age 21.

One year later, she joined the first violin section of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where her husband has been a member since 2006. Since 2010, she has performed frequently with the Cleveland Orchestra, both at Severance Hall and on tour domestically and abroad. In 2011, she was appointed the youngest-ever concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

In 2010-2011, she was the sole participant in the prestigious Concertmaster Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music, a mentoring fellowship with William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and former first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet.

Ms. Greenholtz studied with him for a year, in private lessons and orchestra rehearsals, and played with the world-famous ensemble. "To see how he does that job, from the outside and inside the orchestra, was really an inspiring experience for me," she said.

Ms. Greenholtz has been leader of the Madison string section since January 2012 and in the Quad-Cities since fall 2012. She made her solo debut as concertmaster in Davenport in October, playing the Bruch concerto.

"I love the rehearsal process, being a concertmaster, to have the input and engagement that's required to be in that kind of leadership position in the orchestra," she said.

A concertmaster is in charge of marking the music for string bowings and phrasings for other players, to ensure everyone is coordinated and to achieve the best sound possible, Ms. Greenholtz said. It helps that QCSO music director/conductor Mark Russell Smith also is a string player (cello), she noted.

Ms. Greenholtz said she also enjoys the fact that as concertmaster, she can play with the orchestra, solo, and in small chamber groups. "It's such a privilege to be able to play it week after week," she said.

She will play in a chamber recital March 13 with Marian Lee, a new pianist at St. Ambrose University.

-- Location:Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula.

-- Population:127,368,088 (July 2012 estimate). No. 10 in the world.

-- Language: Japanese.

Source: CIA World Factbook.

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