Principal violas are getting younger. This one’s 22

Principal violas are getting younger. This one’s 22


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2022

Meet Ming-Yu Hsu, aged 22.

Fresh out of Curtis, she was picked yesterday as principal viola of the Kansas City Symphony, in Missouri.

She’s from Taiwan, entered Curtis in 2014 to study with Hsin-Yun Huang.




  • John Borstlap says:

    The usual jokes aside: the viola is one of the most beautiful instruments in existence, with a character all of its own, and a timbre unavailable on the more celebrated violin. It has the intimacy of secret confessions and hopeless dreams, and the sensuality of the mature alto voice.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Well put Mr. Borstlap, well put, and perhaps that is why the viola is called the stringed instrument of composers. Composers, many of them pianists, who also played the violin but were known to prefer or at least enjoy the viola — the names include Mozart, Schubert, Glinka, Mendelssohn, Benjamin Britten, and one sometimes sees even Bach’s name on that list.

      Then there are the composer violists who actually played the instrument for a living, at least for a time, and there we can include Beethoven (primarily a pianist of course), but also Benda, all of the Stamitz’s, Lalo, Dvořák, Rebecca Clarke, Frank Bridge, Hindemith, Allan Pettersson of recent mention, Tibor Serly, David Diamond, Nedbal, and the list goes on. And this does not include the professional violists who did a bit of composing on the side, such as Carlton Cooley and Lionel Tertis.

      • John Borstlap says:

        A stunning list….. And another characteristic of (many) violists is that they cultivate many other activities next to their playing. Ensembles or string quartets or string trios, including a viola, often enjoy the expertise of the violist’s computer skills, or fundraising skills or management experience. The viola personality seems to often spill over the instrument’s boundaries.

  • MacroV says:

    Impressive. And Kansas City is becoming quite an orchestra, at least based on the number of players from there who seem to go on to win jobs in big orchestras.

    • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

      A majority of musicians in all American orchestras, from Los Angeles and New York to Kansas City and Indianapolis, went to the same schools: Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman, CIM, etc. Some were just luckier in their audition successes.

  • Sam's Hot Car Lot says:

    There aren’t many orchestras that can boast such a beautiful section leader.

  • Terence says:

    Best wishes to Ming Yu.

    Just a general question :

    Do any US readers know how so many foreign college graduates stay on in the country after graduating?

    Do you get a green card after going to a US college?

    • percussionist says:

      No, but the majority of full-time orchestras (KC included) will sponsor a visa for you if needed.