Charlie Pikler

Charlie Pikler

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Charles Pikler joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a violinist in 1978, and in 1986 was appointed principal violist by Sir Georg Solti. Charlie studied the piano with his parents and studied the violin with Ben Ornstein and continued his violin studies with Bronislaw Gimpel at the University of Connecticut, and Roman Totenberg at the Berkshire Music Center Tanglewood Young Artist Program. He has appeared as soloist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Eastern Connecticut Symphony, and Manchester Civic Orchestra, among others. In 1973, he earned a degree in mathematics with distinct honors from the University of Minnesota. He launched his career as a violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1971, later becoming a member of the Cleveland Orchestra (1974-1976) and the Rotterdam Philharmonic (1976-1978). He has been featured as a soloist with the CSO, as well as with many other orchestras in the Chicago area, including the Kankakee Symphony. Additionally, he has been a soloist with the Kingsport Tennessee Symphony, Orchestra of the Pines in Nacogdoches, Texas, the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, and the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra.

Charlie served as concertmaster of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra under Dieter Kober, performing also as soloist on tour with it. His other concertmaster engagements include the Sinfonia Orchestra of Chicago; the Orchestra of the Apollo Chorus; the Ars Viva Orchestra; the Chicago Opera Theater Orchestra; the Northbrook Symphony; the River Cities Philharmonic; and the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest. A chamber music enthusiast, he participated in several ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony String Quartet and Tononi Ensemble. Charlie has been a guest artist with the Daniel String Quartet of Holland, the Vermeer Quartet of De Kalb, and the Louisville String Quartet. In 1990, he performed Frank Beezhold’s Viola Concerto, which was composed for and dedicated to him, with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago at Orchestra Hall. He recorded this work in the composer’s own transcription for piano and viola with pianist Dorothy Shultz. He has recorded Easley Blackwood’s chamber music with the composer for Cedille Records. He was featured as soloist on the Sewanee Symphony’s recording of Berlioz’s Harold in Italy for Solo Viola and Orchestra, under Maestro Victor Yampolsky. In 1995 and 1996, he served as guest principal violist for the Boston Symphony under Maestro Seiji Ozawa.

Charlie also performed at the Bay Festival in Rockport, Maine and the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Locally, Charlie is part of the faculty of Northwestern University. For many years, he has coached the violist section of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as many ensembles at Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. Charlie is the founder and music director of I Solisti MYAC. Charlie and his wife, Ruth, have two sons, David and Andrew, and a daughter, Amy, who incidentally was a string student at MYAC.