Stephen Schmidt has been a full-time violist with the Richmond Symphony since 1996, and is the principal violist of the Williamsburg Symphonia. He grew up outside of Philadelphia in Havertown, Pennsylvania and at the age of 14 started commuting to New York City on weekends to attend The Juilliard School’s Pre-College program. He went on to earn Pre-College, Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School and then a Doctorate from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. His teachers have included Roberto Diaz, Paul Neubauer, Eugene Becker, Joseph DePasquale, Paul Doktor, and Janee Munroe. As a performer he has participated in many music festivals, including Tanglewood, Spoleto (Italy), Bowdoin International Music Festival, Kinhaven, and the National Repertory Orchestra.
Dr. Schmidt teaches viola at Virginia Commonwealth University and is the Director as well as Chairman of the Board of VCU’s Mary Anne Rennolds Chamber Concerts series, a series that presents concerts and masterclasses by internationally renowned chamber groups and classical instrumentalists. He spent 15 summers teaching and performing at the Performing Arts Institute in Pennsylvania, where he was the coordinator of strings and was featured as soloist with their orchestra many times. In 2003 he joined the Richmond Chamber Players, becoming the Artistic Director of that concert series in 2013. Since 2011 he has been teaching at the VCU/RSO “Orchestra Project” summer music program. In 2014 he joined the camp’s organizing committee, and during that year he was also a guest violist with the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble (ACE). Stephen has also performed in the Eckhart Ensemble for the last several years, led by former Pre-College classmate and current RSO principal oboist Gustav Highstein.
In 2012 Stephen appeared in two scenes in Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln”—in one scene as concertmaster and in one scene as the theater orchestra’s conductor. In 2014 he appeared as a violinist in AMC channel’s television show Turn (Episode #2: “Who By Fire”) and was filmed in a scene for the pilot episode of ABC/Amazon’s new Civil War era tv series Point of Honor.
Stephen is a regular judge for local concerto competitions and youth-orchestra auditions, and has served as a judge for the MTNA Regional Competition. He also enjoys doing workshops and sectionals with students at local schools and music programs. His wife Holly Rose is also a violist and violinist and has extensive long-term apprenticeship training in the Suzuki Method. She is the Managing Director of the Richmond Chamber Players. Together they enjoy teaching all ages and ranges of young string players. Stephen loves collecting vintage vinyl records (33s!) and dreaming about old instruments and classic cars.