Strings & Harp

VCU Music provides a strong program for string instrumentalists of all majors. Students who complete the music curriculum in strings can receive the following degrees: Bachelor of Music Performance, Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Music Education.

String students at VCU are able to take advantage of a wide range of performance opportunities. These range from weekly string master classes — an informal group forum on performance issues — to chamber music concerts and the VCU Opera Orchestra.


Our mission is to prepare students for a career in music performance and education through rigorous training and personal mentorship.  Music is a competitive but widely multifaceted career choice and much of our work involves broadening students’ focus.  Faculty members work closely with students to hone these four personal characteristics that are essential to be a successful competitor in the field of music:

  1. Creativity
  2. Organization
  3. Resilience
  4. Resourcefulness

Strategies in our work with students:

  1. Promote independence, both musically and academically.
  2. Build a host of professional relationships in the music field outside of VCU for each student.
  3. Support and train students in organization and discipline.
  4. Mentor students in a secondary income strategy: teaching, technology, and entrepreneurial skills.

Distinguished Guest Artist series

Every year, VCU hosts a number of guest artists who work intimately with students in workshop and master class settings.  Guest artist fall into two categories: Internationally renowned musicians and University professors in graduate programs from around the United States.  The purpose of the guest artist program is to introduce students to professionals in the field, broaden their perspective, prepare them for graduate study, and of course to help them excel on their instrument.  At other institutions these special opportunities are rare and reserved only for graduate students.  VCU is unique in its commitment to giving undergraduates a chance to work with top leaders in the field.

Recent Distinguished Guest Artists

  • Bonnie Hampton, Cello (Juilliard School)
  • President’s Own Marine Orchestra Quartet
  • Marjorie Bagley, Violin (University of North Carolina)
  • John Gilbert, Violin (Texas Tech University)
  • Tokyo String Quartet (International Artists)
  • Elizabeth Atkins (National Symphony, University of Maryland)
  • Ira Gold, bass (National Symphony, The Catholic University of America)
  • Peter Wispelwey, cello (International Artist)
  • Escher Quartet (International Artists)
  • Brooklyn Rider (International Artists, State University of New York)
  • Alexander Ezerman, Cello (University of North Carolina)
  • Robert Taylor, Concertmaster, National Tour of Lion King
  • Karen Johnson, Violin (former Concertmaster, Richmond Symphony)
  • Zuill Bailey, Cello (International Artist, University Texas El Paso)
  • Martin Davids, Baroque Violin (Loyola University)
  • Lawrence Dutton, Viola (Emerson Quartet, Manhattan School of Music, State  Stonybrook, Mercer School, GA)
  • Wes Baldwin, Cello (University of Tennessee)


Students are encouraged to participate in internships with area businesses and arts organizations (for credit) during their junior and senior year.  This experience is an important opportunity to build up their resume in their secondary income area.

The City of Richmond

VCU String players thrive in the metropolitan area of Richmond, where the opportunities to be a working musician are plentiful, even for those still in school. Students teach for area studios and can be heard around Richmond playing wedding gigs. The city also boasts great local, national and international talent, all of whom serve to inspire the learning musician. Please visit the websites of programs and groups we call our friends:

String Events for High School Students

Interested in auditioning? Please view the strings audition requirements.

The Strings faculty at VCU is comprised of some of the most accomplished orchestral and chamber musicians in Virginia.  They hold positions with the Richmond Symphony, Virginia Symphony, and perform regularly with groups like the National Symphony, the Richmond Chamber Players and the Atlantic Chamber Ensemble.