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Q & A with Sean Juhl

Q & A with Sean Juhl
By Bethany Tillerson (photo credit: © George Lange)

On October 17th, The Classical Station will share the Pittsburgh Symphony’s best recordings of classical music from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.! Monday Night at the Symphony is a chance to dedicate specific time to highlighting great symphonies and orchestras worldwide; along with sharing music, The Classical Station strives to spotlight specific artists within those symphonies with our Q&A sessions.

Violist Sean Juhl joined the Pittsburgh Symphony in June 2022. He’s proven himself to be a talented musician, winning first prize in The Juilliard School’s 2019 Viola Concerto Competition and performing with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Juilliard Orchestra.

Q: What is your favorite piece of music to play?
Juhl: My favorite piece to play is probably the Rebecca Clarke Viola Sonata. It was one of the first works I ever learned on the instrument, but I still come back to it from time to time. Her music is bursting with character and vibrance, and I love how this sonata provides so many gorgeous moments to show off the unique sound of the viola. We violists rarely get a chance to step into the spotlight, but this piece is a wonderful opportunity to wear our hearts on our sleeves and really show off our chops.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being part of the Pittsburgh Symphony?
Juhl: Playing with the Pittsburgh Symphony has been a dream come true, and I still find that I’ll look around during a rehearsal and barely believe that this is where I’ve ended up. I love that I can really depend on the musicality of my colleagues in the orchestra, and that every note is played with conviction and purpose. It feels very fulfilling to contribute in my own small way to such beautiful music, and I’m so happy that we get to share it with the city of Pittsburgh!

Q: If you could spend one day with any composer who would it be?
Juhl: This is a tough one, but I’d like to spend a day with Leonard Bernstein. I think that orchestras today can sometimes struggle to program pieces that are musically fulfilling and resonate with modern audiences, but Bernstein’s music seems to fill this need very well. It’s always a blast to play his music because not only is it challenging and fun to perform, you know that, more often than not, the audience has heard it many times and can follow along without help. I also respect him so much for his work as a music educator, and I watch his Young People’s Concerts on YouTube every once in a while. He had a gift for making classical music understandable and approachable for kids and adults alike, and I hope that I can someday follow in his footsteps.

You can listen to the Pittsburgh Symphony October 17 on The Classical Station! Download our app, stream online on TheClassicalStation.org, or turn your radio to 89.7 FM!