The principal viola for the Mannes Orchestra has an unusual interest given her chosen field. She’s also an auto enthusiast. That became clear in the first minute after sitting down with the New_S. “If the violin is a sedan, then the viola is an SUV,” said Master of Music candidate Heather Faust. “It’s the same animal, but larger and more challenging to handle.” Despite the analogy, it didn’t take long for the Pennsylvania native to master the instrument. Though Faust has been playing the violin since she was six years old, she didn’t transition to the viola until her sophomore year at Mannes. She’s since stuck with it through her master’s program, saying its “deeper and darker registers” speak to her. Faust credits much of her success as a musician, as well as the opportunities she sees in the future, to her time at Mannes College The New School for Music.
“This is my sixth year [at the conservatory]—four during my bachelor’s, one extension year, and now I’m in the midst of my master’s program,” Faust explained. “All this to say, I’ve obviously had a wonderful experience here. It’s such a tight knit community, and the faculty have helped me grow tremendously as an overall musician.” She names one in particular. “Orchestral Director David Hayes is basically the whole reason I’m here,” Faust said. He’s provided me a platform on which to branch out and be a professional.” She mentions her gig as a page turner for the New York Philharmonic, as well as mentoring opportunities in some of Mannes’ undergraduate ensembles.
On being a principal, Faust relishes the responsibility that comes with the leadership role. “I enjoy feeling what’s happening in the music, anticipating the movements of the director, and signaling those changes back to the rest of my section,” she said. “I actually like putting my neck on the line, so to speak.” She’s not opposed to the spotlight, either. Remarking on her Lincoln Center debut last week at Alice Tully Hall, Faust gushed, “That hall is like a Ferarri – no, like a Lotus! It’s so alive and so loud. I wouldn’t mind playing there for the rest of my life.”
Faust hopes that’s in her future. She plans on completing a Doctor of Musical Arts at a New York institution before obtaining such an orchestral job and eventually coaching chamber music at the conservatory level. “Thanks to Mannes, I’ve already had my first Carnegie Hall appearance; now I want the complete story.” Itching to get behind the wheel of her personal sports car, no doubt.
Listen to Faust play J.S. Bach’s Corrente Suite no. 3 for Cello by clicking on the player below.