Natalie Gaynor



Principal Second Violinist of the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet Orchestras, Natalie Gaynor is an artist committed to providing performances that connect audiences to the broad range of emotional experiences inherent in classical music. In addition to traditional performances in symphony, chamber music, and theater settings, she also enjoys the novelty of presenting music through new perspectives and alternative venues.

Natalie performs regularly with the Houston Symphony, and has also performed with San Diego Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, and New World Symphony. At Rice University, she served as concertmaster for the Shepherd School Opera and Chamber Orchestras. She has participated multiple summers in prestigious music festivals throughout the world, earning fellowships to the Aspen Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Sarasota Music Festival, New York String Orchestra Seminar, and Pacific Music Festival. In 2018, she was invited to the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, CA, working with living composers to perform and premiere new orchestral works. Natalie regularly plays for special events and services throughout the Houston area, performing classical works, pop music transcriptions, and improvising with a DJ. In addition to her performance career, Natalie maintains a private studio in Houston, teaching beginner and advanced students of all ages.

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A dedicated chamber musician, Natalie was a member of the award winning Azure String Quartet. The quartet was a prize-winner at the National MTNA Chamber Music Competition in Chicago, IL, performing the Haydn “Sunrise,” Schumann A Major, and Shostakovich 9th String Quartets. Azure also was the winner of the Texas Music Teachers’ Association Chamber Music Competition and the MTNA South Central Division Chamber Music Competition, advancing to the national finals. Recently, she collaborated in recital with Rice University clarinet professor Richie Hawley, performing the Mozart Clarinet Quintet and Penderecki Clarinet Quartet. While a fellow at the Sarasota Music Festival, she was chosen perform Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in E minor on ABC7’s Suncoast View broadcast. Natalie also enjoys playing string arrangements of popular tunes. As a member of the Maroon Belles String Quartet, she commissioned several pop music transcriptions during her time at the Aspen Music Festival and premiered them at numerous events throughout the area.

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Natalie appreciates the value of community engagement, because its informal nature allows audiences to connect and respond to the music. She served two summers as a mentor for Music Academy of the West’s MERIT teaching program for promising high school musicians. While living in Cleveland, Ohio, she performed solo and chamber music at the Cleveland Clinic and in local nursing homes. She has performed in art museums in Aspen, Santa Barbara, and Houston taking part in programs that featured music as an integral part of the art installation. She participated in the Greater Houston Flood Relief Benefit Concert, an event dedicated to providing aid to Houston flood victims. She performs regularly at Houston Hobby Airport with Divisi Strings through the Harmony in the Air performing arts program. Live streams of performances can be found on the Divisi Strings Facebook Page! While taking business classes at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, Natalie and her peer group created a “Human Jukebox,” an interactive performance in which the audience could instantly change what the performers were playing just by putting a donation in one of the categorized collection jars. Their performances around campus raised hundreds of dollars, which they chose to donate to the Houston Food Bank. In addition, Natalie has collaborated with Be The Match, a bone marrow and stem cell donation organization, to set up and run several registration drives at Rice University. She encourages everyone to sign up for the National Marrow Registry!

Born and raised in Arlington Heights, Illinois, Natalie began her violin studies at age six, and piano lessons a year later. In high school she studied with Gerardo Ribeiro of Northwestern University and was highly involved in the Midwest Young Artists Youth Orchestra and Chamber Music Program. She began her undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music and transferred to Rice University to follow her teacher, renowned violin pedagogue Paul Kantor. Natalie received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, and completed a Minor in Business from the Jones Graduate School of Business. Other prominent mentors include Kathleen Winkler of Rice University, and Eric Halen, Associate Concertmaster of Houston Symphony. She received full scholarship during her Master’s degree, and earned fellowships to the Music Academy of the West, Aspen Music Festival, and Sarasota Music Festival, and Pacific Music Festival. She has performed under the baton of Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Gustavo Dudamel, Leonard Slatkin, Jun Märkl, Alan Gilbert, James Gaffigan, Osmo Vänskä, and Nicolas McGegan. In masterclass settings she has played for Glenn Dicterow, Pamela Frank, David Chan, and Alex Kerr, and David Kim, among others.

In addition to music, Natalie enjoys taking portrait and travel photography, practicing yoga, going to avant-garde art exhibits, finding new places to travel, and exploring national parks. She performs on a violin by Joseph Curtin, 2005 MacArthur Genius Award grantee. This 2011 violin was modeled after a Guarneri del Gesù and features a one-piece back and a voice that continues to mature.



Teaching | Special Events | Collaboration
Recording | Headshots and Portraits

In addition to her orchestral career, Natalie enjoys sharing her love of music with fellow artists and aspiring musicians. She is experienced in classical and pop music settings, as well as improvisation and fiddling. She is available as a performer for private functions and special events and is currently accepting violin and piano students into her studio in Houston, TX.

Natalie continues to expand her portfolio of headshot and portrait photography, and enjoys capturing people at their best, revealing their personality and talent.





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