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Simon James' Studio Celebrates Symphony Wins Across North America

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Four of James' students recently won seats with symphony orchestras, adding to the ranks of busy freelancers who have graduated from his studio.

January 2, 2024 by Alex Heigl
Sydney Hartwick

Sydney Hartwick

Simon James' studio reunions may need their own airline soon. Four recent grads who studied with the SFCM Strings Chair celebrated the end of 2023 with new jobs in symphonies across the country.

Sydney Hartwick, who graduated with a Professional Studies Certificate earlier this year, has signed a contract with the Columbus Symphony as part of its violin section. The position adds to an already-impressive resume that has seen her sub with the Indianapolis and Saint Louis Symphonies.

Dominique Bégin

Dominique Bégin

Dominique Bégin ('21), is building on his recent time with Miami's New World Symphony by moving to the Quebec Symphony Orchestra after having won the position of first violin, fourth chair.

Archer Brown

Archer Brown

Archer Brown, who performed his senior recital in December, will, coincidentally, head directly to the New World Symphony upon graduating. “I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to the SFCM community for the unending support I have received these past four years," he said. "The Conservatory has made a lasting impact on me, and the vital lessons I have learned throughout my degree will undoubtedly remain with me for the rest of my musical journey.”

Clara Schubilske

Clara Schubilske

Clara Schubilske, who graduated in June 2023, won a job with the Grand Rapids Symphony, and said, "I am so grateful to have studied with Simon James who has been infinitely generous in sharing his time and wisdom."

"Employment is my goal with students," James says. "I often ask them early in our time together, 'What do you want to do with the violin when you leave SFCM?'  So I teach with the requirements of the job in mind. For instance, a student doesn’t need to learn every concerto, sonata, and show piece to become an orchestra musician. They need to have the broadest education possible, but an audition for an orchestra position requires a very limited amount of repertoire played better than everyone else that shows up.  I love preparing students for auditions and the thrill I have when they are successful is indescribable!"

Some of James' other grads are proving that there's an infinite number of ways to make a career as a musician. Anna Nordmoe ('22), is an in-demand violinist in New York, who has performed in Hadestown on Broadway, on tours with Ed Sheeran, and even performed an aerial silks show—while playing violin—with Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle. Rose Crelli ('22), meanwhile, has a relentless schedule of playing violin at weddings and social and sporting events—including Golden State Warriors games—that has earned her and glossy magazines. 

Learn more about studying violin or strings at SFCM.