Meet the Musician: Jessica Guideri
The radiant new concert master of the Cal Phil!
Gliding onto the stage, like an empyrean rock star with her shimmering aquamarine hair and porcelain skin, Jessica Guideri, the new concert master of the California Philharmonic makes a striking impression. And when she picks up the violin to play, all sight disappears, as one’s senses dissolve into her exquisite sound.
Ms. Guideri's earliest musical memories are from a Suzuki concert, her mother, a cellist and cello teacher, took her to. A very young Jessica recalls seeing another little girl lift up her skirt in the middle of the performance. Wanting to join in on the fun, Jessica must have been pleased when her mom started her on violin.
She grew up in Queens, New York, dividing her time between two very intense disciplines; violin practice and gymnastics. She even won the New York State All Around Championship in the latter, and considered striving for the Olympics. But she knew a career as a gymnast was short lived, and hard on the body, so she continued on to college to study music at Julliard and pre-med at Columbia University in their dual degree program. So yet another decision had to be made between two highly demanding subjects. Her parents sagely advised her that she could always return to school, but resuming a musical career after a long absence might not be so possible. My question was how she possibly had the time to be a virtuous violinist, a champion athlete and a medical student. “Good question,” she replied, as if not having thought of it before. “I don’t know.”
After college Ms. Guideri gradually started progressing towards the West Coast, first by winning a job in the Utah based Fry Street Quartet, which toured both nationally and internationally.
She started a long distance relationship with a boyfriend who lived in San Diego, eventually re-locating to that city. She had always been drawn to California, ever since she watched "Beverly Hills, 90210" on tv, and innately knew she'd end up in the Golden State, now appropriately playing for the Cal Phil.
She is currently the Concertmaster of the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
What does being a concert master entail? Ms. Guideri describes it as being like "a team captain,
while the conductor is the coach." Every section in the orchestra has a principal player, which leads his or her respective section, but the concert master helps lead the entire orchestra, assisting in "translating" the conductor's directing to the rest of the orchestra, through their own performance.
Ms. Guideri is new to the Cal Phil, having just accepted the concert-master position for the 2018 Summer Season. “Maestro Vener is a lovely person,” she says affectionately of her new boss, and also praises the kindness of not only the rest of the orchestra, but the audience as well. “It just feels like we’re all friends. It’s really cool and interesting.” Much of this is due to Dr. Vener’s signature style, of talking and relating to the crowd, opening the doors of classical music to all.
Among her many lists of accomplishments, Jessica Guideri has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, has appeared at Lincoln Center and Steinway Hall in New York, records for film and television soundtracks, and is featured on the Emmy-winning public television series the “All Star Orchestra”, consisting of musicians from major orchestras around the country.
Prior to her hair being a brilliant blue, it was colored purple, after it had been pink. It is rumored that audiences of the Santa Barbara Symphony avidly anticipate concerts just to see what color she might model next. And now Cal Phil fans too, can look forward to both seeing and hearing the vibrant violinist, Jessica Guideri.