David Wallace

Chair
617 747-6925
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"What makes the String Department unique? Our doors are wide open, and our entire faculty supports each student’s education. You can graduate having studied with most of our faculty, either privately or in ensembles. At many institutions, you get only one primary teacher. That it can be limiting; it can stunt your growth. 

"Part of my job is to make sure that students have not only the freedom to pursue their creative dreams, but also the structure for becoming technically and musically grounded."

"Another part of our faculty's job is to broaden people’s horizons. Folks may come here as accomplished bluegrass musicians, and thinking that that’s the only path for them. But suddenly they learn that there’s something called Klezmer music, and not only that, but they’re pretty good at it.”

"It’s particularly exciting to be a string player today, because the music industry has opened up so many new realities. In this century, really, the musicians who are thriving are the ones who are able to do everything: able to teach, able to arrange, able to compose, able to produce a recording session, able to play in a section, able to play many styles. So our job as a department is to empower people to do whatever it is that they’re trying to do, but also to expand their range of skills."

"Berklee and its String Department are built on fostering creativity and independent thought, as well as analytical ability that is so linked to the ears and to the fingers. There is the opportunity to get a solid grounding in 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 highly competitive environments. Competition can be a good thing when it drives us to achieve our absolute best potential, but it can be demoralizing if we lose sight of our purpose as musicians. I think that’s one of the things I’ve seen from Berklee students and Berklee faculty—we're all about the joy of music-making. We're also about celebrating musical individuality, and I don’t see that everywhere."

"The world is changing. There are new string quartets that are no longer just hiring people who have a beautiful sound and a sure technique; 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
  • 14 years as a professor at The Juilliard School
  • 17 years as a Teaching Artist with the New York Philharmonic
  • International tours and television and radio broadcasts
  • Founder of many eclectic ensembles, including The Doc Wallace Trio, Hat Trick, KNOT, Music Unlocked!, and the Teaching Artist Ensemble of the New York Philharmonic
  • Educator who has worked for numerous arts institutions, including 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 with commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, Rachel Barton Pine, the Marian Anderson String Quartet
  • Author of Reaching Out: A Musician’s Guide to Interactive Performance (McGraw Hill)