Leanne Rabesa began musical studies on the violin in October of 1986 in her hometown of Falmouth, Massachusetts. She added the cello in 1991, and first tried a viola the following year. It took a string quartet, a cross-continental journey and a first-place finish in an audition for which she’d only had five days’ preparation before she realized that, yes, it was going to have to be the viola from here on out.
Okay, enough with the third-person. As a member of the Pharos String Quartet from 1992-1996, I studied with members of the Colorado, Portland, and Vermeer String Quartets, was a member of the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (which has since dropped the “Greater” from its name, but will always be GBYSO to me), and performed in venues as varied as Boston’s Symphony Hall and at a ski gondola on Whistler Mountain, British Columbia, and shared stages with everyone from my hometown pals to Yo-Yo Ma.
After two years of high school, I realized it was not going to get any more interesting and spent my junior year preparing to enter college rather than finishing out my four-year sentence at the secondary level. In 1996 I entered the Eastman School of Music, where I began my studies with George Taylor. As a member of the Caravaggio String Quartet (which had various names but existed from 1997-2002), I studied primarily with members of the Ying Quartet (though I was usually a part of at least three chamber groups at any given time). In the fall of 1999 and again in the spring of 2001, we embarked upon two-week tours of Kentucky under the auspices of New Performing Arts, presenting both educational programs at schools around the state and full formal concerts. I also joined Gamelan Lila Muni, a Balinese gamelan anklung, which opened my ears (though I frequently wore earplugs – it’s loud!) to a much greater variety of world musics as well as different tuning systems (not always fun when you have perfect pitch). While at Eastman, performances under the batons of artists like John Williams and Christoph von Dohnanyi and in collaboration with Bobby McFerrin or members of the Eastman Chamber Music Society (2001-2002) further expanded my understanding of the possibilities inherent in a bunch of notes – as long as they’re in good hands.
Upon graduation in 2002, I relocated to my old haunt of Boston and began teaching regularly. I started teaching at the age of 15 in order to help pay for my own lessons; I was also George Taylor’s teaching assistant at Eastman during my masters’ degree and frequently coached other student chamber groups from the age of 16 onward. I currently teach a modified Suzuki curriculum, heavily supplemented with other materials drawn from a wide spectrum of sources (though with frequent reference to the ABRSM and ASTA syllabi), and am also a member of ASTA (the American String Teachers Association) and the American Viola Society. I take teaching very seriously, and though I don’t expect all (or necessarily any) of my students to go on to a professional career in music, when they graduate from high school I want them to be equipped with the skills to enjoy playing music for the rest of their lives, whether in a community orchestra, in chamber groups with friends or siblings (or spouses or children, but none of them are that old yet!), or just as a release in the evenings after a high-stress day as a doctor-lawyer-what-have-you.
Being one of those people who can’t stand not doing something creative, I am also an active member of the writing group The Burrow and a knitting circle known as the Design Collaborative. Please check out some of these groups’ activities as well (NB: not all material on the Burrow’s website is necessarily rated PG). I currently live in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, where you might find me practicing or writing or knitting, or then again I might be running in the Arboretum, eating too much at one of the fabulous local restaurants, or feeding my love of cross-the-Pond culture at The Haven (Scottish) or Doyle’s (Irish). If you have recently joined the world of the viola, I can only say, what took you so long? Those of you who’ve been around for a while, well, clearly you’re highly intelligent people. Now go explore the rest of the site, okay?