Miss. Rachel Halvorson

Viola, Violin Teacher

Rachel Halvorson

SAA Member


Sarasota, FL
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Rachel Halvorson joined the Sarasota Orchestra as principal violist in 2019. She also plays in the orchestra’s resident ensemble, the Sarasota String Quartet.

Rachel holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), studying with Peter Slowik, and Rice University (MM), where she acted as Teaching Assistant to Ivo Van der Werff and coached chamber music for the Rice Preparatory Program. She includes Joan derHovsepian and Allyson Dawkins as significant musical mentors.

Rachel’s love for orchestral music began at age 10, when she left a Harry Potter movie on a mission: to play in an orchestra. She immediately took up viola lessons. Since then, Rachel has performed with orchestras such as the Cincinnati, Houston, San Antonio, Akron, Syracuse Symphoria and New World symphonies, and Boston Symphony Orchestra in an opportunity through the Tanglewood Music Center.   During the summer season, she has joined Tanglewood, Spoleto Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Crescendo (Hungary), and Credo Festival on fellowships. In 2019, Rachel joined the Music in the Mountains festival in Durango, CO for their summer season, and remains on their roster.

An advocate for contemporary classical music, Rachel has performed with numerous ensembles, including Sarasota’s EnsembleNewSRQ, Hear & Now, and KINETIC: The Conductorless Ensemble, a vibrant string chamber orchestra focusing on “showcasing diverse, under represented, and newly composed classical music through flexible chamber and orchestral formats”.

Rachel recently was awarded first prize at the American Viola Society’s Excerpt Competition (2018) and first in the AVS Collegiate Solo Competition (2018).  Rachel was generously loaned a Mario Miralles viola from 2017-2019 by the Maestro Society Instrument Lending Program. She has performed in masterclasses for inspiring pedagogues including Heidi Castleman, Robert Vernon, Roberto Diaz, Paul Coletti, Vicky Chang, Helen Callus, Paul Silverthorn, and Cathy Basrak.  

Connecting with people in her community through music has always been important to Rachel. She loves teaching music at all levels, in one-on-one for her own private studio, by coaching chamber music ensembles, and in youth orchestra programs across Texas and Florida. With organizations JUMP! and KINETIC: The Conductorless Ensembles, Rachel has performed and taught throughout Houston, leading group and individual classes in all corners of the city. Rachel values the opportunity to take music into the Sarasota community with Upward Notes, a non-profit founded by Sarasota Orchestra’s principal cellist, Natalie Helm.

When she’s not playing viola, Rachel enjoys bikram yoga, going for long jogs, swing dancing, all dogs, and creating delicious gluten-free foods.