David Wallace

Chair
617 747-6925

"One of the things that makes the String Department unique here as opposed to string department in many other institutions, is the doors are very open. Students may leave here having studied with quite a few people privately, and getting insights from many of them. In many institutions, you only have one main teacher. The challenge there is that it can be limiting, it can stunt growth. But here, part of the challenge of my job is to make sure that the students have as much freedom as they need to pursue their vision, but also as much structure as they need in order to become technically and musically grounded."

"Another part of my job, and the faculty’s job, is broadening people’s horizons, so that they may come here as very accomplished bluegrass fiddlers, and thinking that that’s the path they want, but then suddenly they learn that there’s something called klezmer music, and not only that, but they’re pretty good at it."

"In the strings world it’s particularly exciting right now, because it’s really opened up to a whole different reality. In this century, really, the musicians who are thriving are the ones who are doing everything. Or able to do everything. Able to teach, able to arrange, able to compose, able to do a recording session, able to play in a section. So I think a lot of our job in the department is to try to get people as able to do whatever it is that they’re trying to do, but also giving them a broad range of skills."

"Berklee and its String Department are built on fostering creativity and independent thought, and analytical ability that is so linked to the ears and to the fingers. There is the opportunity to get a solid grounding in both traditional musical languages as well as contemporary ones. And it’s a very supportive community. Many conservatories, I can tell you, may be very good, but they can be very unhappy or very competitive. Competition can be a good thing in that it can drive us to achieve our absolute best potential, but it can also be demoralizing or we can lose the point. I think that’s one of the things I’ve seen from Berklee students and Berklee faculty—it’s all about the joy of music-making. It’s also about celebrating musical individuality, and I don’t see that everywhere."

"The world is changing. There are now string quartets that are not just wanting people who have a beautiful sound and a sure technique, but they’re wanting someone who can groove. Berklee trains string players to groove, as well as to improvise, to play with a sure technique, an expressive sound. It’s really about how do you make something come alive right now, in an immediate way."

 
 

 

Career Highlights
  • Grammy-nominated performer who has been broadcast as a soloist or chamber musician on NPR, CBS, ABC, PBS, and more
  • Educator who has worked for arts institutions such as the Juilliard School, the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, among others
  • Award-winning composer and champion Texas fiddler
  • Author of Reaching Out: A Musician’s Guide to Interactive Performance