Jeremy Williams

Hometown: Albany, N.Y.
Member of the Nashville Symphony since 1998

What inspired you to become a musician, and why did you pick the violin?
I started playing violin when I was 3 years old. I was never the best player, but I could mimic fairly well. So I always watched the best players and followed them. I started with the violin because my mom picked it for me! She played violin for a year in high school and thought music was important for a well-rounded education. All of my siblings played an instrument too, but they didn’t stick with it as I did.

What are some highlights of your time performing with the Nashville Symphony?
Mahler’s Ninth Symphony was awesome!

Playing with Ray Charles.

Learning from colleagues over the years in the Nashville Symphony...from the older members and the newer players.

Getting to play every day in the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center since it opened mid-2006 has also been a highlight. It is one of the best halls in the world, both acoustically and aesthetically…right here in Nashville!

What’s the most unusual thing that’s ever happened to you onstage?
I have broken a few strings over the years, dropped my bow a few times. That’s embarrassing.

I did play a Christmas gig one time (NOT with the Nashville Symphony!) that had live sheep and donkeys onstage. They relieved themselves near me onstage, and it stunk!

Any pieces you’ve never gotten to perform, but always wanted to?
I’ve really played about all of the orchestral pieces that I’ve wanted to….and more! Good thing we do lots of premieres at the Nashville Symphony! There are plenty of other pieces that have violin in them but aren’t orchestra pieces, a few of those chamber music and some solo pieces that I still want to play. I’m playing two of my favorite chamber pieces this month as part of the Nashville Symphony's OnStage series: Mozart Clarinet Quintet and Brahms Horn Trio.

Do you perform outside of your work with the Nashville Symphony?
I play in all kinds of other groups, but the Nashville Symphony has been my main job since 1998. I have played in Alias Chamber Ensemble for more than 10 years, recently played in the Sarasota Orchestra, Gateway Chamber Orchestra and some occasional commercial recording sessions. I really enjoy playing in the Sarasota Orchestra. It gives me a week’s reprieve in the winter to get out of Nashville and go to Florida! I’ve been on the substitute list there for years and have some great friends who play there. I also like playing chamber music in Alias Chamber Ensemble. That is especially rewarding because it is a volunteer group of musicians, and all of our proceeds go to local charities!

Who has had the greatest influence on you as a musician?
My greatest influence as a musician was my teacher in graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University. Andres Cardenes was my teacher and mentor, to whom I owe all of my success as a musician.

My teacher from eighth to 10th grade, Lois Lyman, was also a great friend and teacher — and helped to clarify many musical concepts for me.

Does your work as a musician influence other aspects of your life?
All aspects of my life are touched by working as a musician. For one thing, my Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are almost always booked with concerts. The week-to-week schedule is quite irregular, so that takes some getting used to. I also have to be quite careful to keep in decent shape and to avoid hurting my hands or getting cuts on my fingers.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not rehearsing or performing?
Lately, I have been trying to keep in shape and get in better shape. I’ve been riding my bicycle quite a bit. I also got inspired by a colleague to build my own bamboo bicycle from scratch! It is quite a conversation piece! I have volunteered with Nashville Adult Literacy Council as a reading tutor. I have also rehabbed four houses in Nashville over the years.

What do you like about living in Nashville, and what are your favorite things to do here?
Nashville has changed a lot since 1998. I take advantage of Nashville’s Greenways when I get the chance, either running or biking. My three dogs like the greenways and dog parks, although one is now too old to get out anymore. There are also tons of great restaurants. I have tried most of them in East Nashville, where I live, and a few in the other areas of town. Nashville is growing so fast now, I can’t keep up! I’m from upstate New York, and I do appreciate Nashville’s relatively mild winters. Nashville is Music City, and I like to see live music whenever my schedule allows.

Do you enjoy reading?
I’m not currently reading any books, just magazines. The last few books I read were The Hunger Games and a compilation of Isaac Asimov short stories. I have a shelf full of books that I will read when I get the chance.