Juilliard violist is whisked into NY Phil

Juilliard violist is whisked into NY Phil


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2023

We hear that Tabby Rhee has won an audition to join the NY Philharmonic viola section.

She is not due to graduate from Juilliard for another two months.

Tabby is from Brookfield, Wisconsin.

UPDATE: We’re advised by the NY Phil that Tabitha is scheduled for trial weeks in the final phase of the audition process. She is completing a Masters degree at Juilliard this May. She already has a Bachelor of Music degree, also from Juilliard.


  • Mick the Knife says:

    Nice job to be whisked into. Congratulations to her!

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    Juillaird, that’s an interesting way to typo it.

    With orchestras like Chicago and and New York hiring students it’s good news that there are ways to ace the test now, and to make a more than satisfactory impression without a long resume of professional experience. Indeed, in performing arts what is the current value of a degree?

    • Ann Roggen says:

      it’s all about how the player actually plays the instrument. certainly, a resume that shows a lot of experience and credentials will get someone an audition- but the bottom line is how the person plays that audition on that day.

      • Max Raimi says:

        Hi, Ann. Actually, the Chicago Symphony requires no resume for an audition; we’ll listen to anybody. If Mr. Lebrecht wishes, he can try out for our upcoming Assistant Principal Oboe opening.

        • Oboist says:

          That’s interesting. I was under the impression the audition for that position was cancelled so that a current member of the orchestra could take an internal, one-person audition for the position. Seems like that doesn’t really line up with “listening to anybody.” But please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • McBaldy says:

      More orchestras should open up their auditions to candidates who are as of yet untested. Gives students in major conservatoires the chance to cut their teeth in the audition circuit, and the orchestra benefits by expanding their reach for a star position further than “Jim, Fred, Tommy and Paul who played with us last season”, as a result the sound of the orchestra evolves. I can think of some countries whose orchestral output has suffered greatly from only offering auditions to their friends without a screen in place(ahem… UK)

    • Max Raimi says:

      This has always been the case. I’ve never seen any member of any audition committee at the Chicago Symphony give any consideration whatsoever to a candidate’s resume, and I’ve been in the orchestra nearly 40 years. Indeed, we don’t even see the resume until we have voted in the preliminary round, and not even then if the subsequent rounds are behind a screen.
      The value of a degree is perhaps more of a consideration for the vast majority of musicians who may well be superb players, but aren’t fortunate enough to have those two or three great days auditioning for an orchestra and must make their way in music without a position in a major symphony.

  • muti minion says:

    And her daddy is not even the concertmaster

    • Sam Li says:

      Tabitha’s dad is not in the music business and not even a musician. Her brother Julian Rhee is an amazing talented violinist that just won the Silver medal at the Indianapolis Competition. What a talent! Congrats Tabitha!!!

    • Sam Li says:


  • Xing Zhu says:

    Very impressive! I think she plays very good and her brother just won the International Competition. Don’t know the name. Congrats to her.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    She is a master’s degree student.

    From her website: “Tabitha Rhee is currently pursuing her Masters of Music degree at the Juilliard School, where she studies with Misha Amory as a proud recipient of the Kovner Fellowship. While a graduate student at Juilliard, Ms. Rhee has performed with the New York Philharmonic as a substitute violist, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Death of Classical, Apex Ensemble, and Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.
    read full bio”

  • Mr. Ron says:

    More bio information: “Tabitha is the winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition and has soloed with the Juilliard Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Peter Oundjian at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. In addition, she has soloed with the Wisconsin Philharmonic, Madison Symphony Orchestra, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and has performed as a Principal Violist with the Juilliard Orchestra. Tabitha has appeared on the concert stages of Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Overture Hall, The Wiener Musikverein, and Bela Bartok Hall in Budapest. She is a founding member of the Wisconsin Intergenerational Orchestra where she serves as Artistic Assistant when she is home in Wisconsin.

    Ms. Rhee has attended various prestigious music festivals such as the Verbier Festival Academy, Music@Menlo International Program, Four Seasons Winter Workshop, Bravo! Vail, Pierce Hill Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and the Ravinia Steans Music Institute next summer of 2023. She has worked closely with esteemed artists such as Antoine Tamestit, Nobuko Imai, Roger Tapping, and Joseph Lin. Tabitha is an alumna of the Music Institute of Chicago Academy where she was a student of Almita and Roland Vamos. She received her Bachelor of Music degree at the Juilliard School as a Kovner Fellow studying with Misha Amory and Heidi Castleman.”

    She may be young but she is very talented.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    She is also the sister of the gifted violinist, Julian Rhee, who is at Harvard.

    • Samach says:

      That’s because Harvard has a quota of 1 Asian violinist per class.

      I can’t wait until the Supreme Court strikes down discrimination against Asians and Harvard will have no choice but to fill an entire class with nothing but Asian classical music instrumentalists.

      (Now, whether that would be a desirable social end is altogether another matter.)

    • Sam Li says:

      Julian Rhee decided to quit Harvard and stick with music studying with Miriam Fried. I hear….

  • Mystic Chord says:

    Congratulations Tabby, and the best of luck for your audition!

  • Pinch Me says:

    She graduates with her Master’s in two weeks, not an undergrad.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Hers is a name we (those who follow local music making that is) have been reading about from time to time here in Milwaukee for several years, since at a young age she already has performed as soloist with the Madison and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestras.

    Her brother Julian is in the early stages of a promising career as a violin soloist.

    I believe both siblings were concertmasters of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (which may not mean much beyond the borders of Milwaukee but it’s worth noting that prior concertmasters of this youth orchestra include Daniel Stepner and Marilyn McDonald, both distinguished violinists and violin teachers and by odd coincidence, both known for their period instrument performances and recordings).

  • Anon says:

    Actually she’s finishing her master’s in 2 months

  • Bill says:

    She’s not an undergraduate, she already graduated with her undergraduate degree from Juilliard. She’s about to collect her master’s degree. She’s been playing as a substitute in the NYPhil for a while.

    I found out these details with about 30 seconds of effort, prompted by the well-founded assumption that any story here that seems to have a spin probably has at least one error of fact.

  • Hmus says:

    Not unheard of. They took in a bass player the same way a loooong time ago…

  • MacroV says:

    Rebecca Young, the NYPO’s longtime assistant principal viola, also won her Philharmonic audition (section job) several months before graduating from Juilliard, back in 1986.


  • TruthHurts says:

    So great to have as many female violists as possible in anticipation of Maestra Tár and all the other conductoresses who will appear!
    Keep up the good work and thank you for this earth-shattering news!

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Congratulations to Ms. Rhee!

    Reminds me of a classmate from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music , Pat Rogers.

    As the story goes, over 40 years ago she had a blind audition for principal bassoon at the Met Opera, immediately following graduation…on a lark. There was a gasp in the auditions room when this very young woman stepped out from behind the screen.

    Pat enjoyed an extremely successful career at the Met spanning four decades.

  • Larry W says:

    Given Juilliard, Kovner Fellow, Misha Amory, Heidi Castelman, and the Vamoses, the NY Phiharmonic was almost inevitable. Congrats to Tabitha!

    • Sam Li says:

      She was a strong violinist when she was younger and now an amazing violist. Tabitha and her brother Julian are extremely hard working musicians. Look them up! Well deserved.

  • Kyle Wiedmeyer says:

    Damn, her hometown Milwaukee Symphony recently had a viola audition and one here would hope that she’d choose them…

  • Sam Li says:

    New York Phil is so lucky to have you. Congrats!! I have heard you solo many years ago with Juilliard and you are an amazing violist. Best violist. Wow!