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Wynne Wong-Rife, Violin II

Wynne, a native Tucsonan, began playing the violin at 10 years in the Brichta Elementary School Orchestra. She was a member of the Tucson Youth Symphony and Tucson Junior Strings, and attended Tucson Symphony Orchestra concerts. After studying with John Ferrell at The University of Arizona for one year, she transferred to the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Peter Salaff of the Cleveland Quartet, and was awarded a B.M. with Distinction in Violin Performance.  At Eastman she met and became engaged to David Rife, and in 1981, both decided to attend New England Conservatory of Music to avoid astronomical long distance phone bills. Wynne graduated from the New England Conservatory in 1983 with a M.M. in Violin Performance, and then returned to Tucson with David to marry and start a family. She has played with the TSO since 1985 (she auditioned when she was 8 months pregnant with their first daughter), is the second violin in the TSO String Quartet, and teaches a large class of violin students (32 at last count). Wynne also enjoys photography, knitting and Starbucks (not necessarily in that order). Wynne and David have two daughters, Melissa and Molly (both ‘cellists) and four cats.

What music is on your iPod? 
I just checked and I have only 560 songs. Most of the music is classical - usually pieces that we’re performing in TSO or the TSO String Quartet. But, I also enjoy tangos, Latino, Jazz, Mariachi, Folk, Gospel, Pop and World music as well. I also download knitting podcasts and episodes of Ted Talks. I don’t always listen to music because it’s such a huge part of my day already.

What was your first musical experience as performer or audience member? 
I can’t remember my first performance – even though it would have been at age 11, that’s just too long ago to remember something that insignificant. However, two performances that I heard at that same age were unforgettable:  the Royal London Philharmonic playing Beethoven 7 (I’ll NEVER forget the sound of that orchestra playing the second movement – it was sublime, and I understood that even then at age 11) and Itzhak Perlman in recital. 

Why did you choose your instrument?
I didn’t choose it; it chose me. I had started flute lessons at age 9, but didn’t practice, so after 3 months, my Mother didn’t allow me to continue. A year later, I came home and asked my mother if I could play an instrument; any instrument. I wasn’t picky. She said, “Well, we have this old violin in the corner that Uncle Dan (a family friend) picked up at a pawn shop for $10. Why don’t you play that?” And, I did. And, the rest is history. I still have that violin and lend it to students who need a violin and can’t afford to rent. And, the violin’s name is Uncle Dan.

What is your favorite music to perform? Genre or specific piece
That’s like asking me if I like Melissa or Molly better. ☺ I love all music. And, pretty much, I like performing all music. I definitely love playing anything by Brahms, and Beethoven 7th. On the next classic we’re playing one of my favorites, Danzon No. 2 by Marquez. I’ve been bugging George about performing Metamorphosen by Strauss. I loved playing the Last Round by Golijove. Above all, though, I really like playing the string quartet literature and tangos are the best!

What do you do besides music?
I’m a Mom, and a violin teacher. I love cats, knitting, photography and Starbucks (not necessarily in that order). I love running, biking, hiking and being outdoors, especially with my family. I’m very fond of food.

Where did you go to school?
In Tucson:  Brichta Elementary, Roskruge Junior High, Cholla High School.
I attended the U of A for one year, then transferred to Eastman School of Music where I received my Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance with distinction degree and also a husband. I received my Master of Violin Performance degree at the New England Conservatory of Music.

What are your favorite places in Tucson?
Starbucks, Bushi Sushi, Miss Saigon, Yoshimatsu, Allegro Gelato, Ba Dar, Tumamoc, Tohono Chul, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Ventana Trail, Rillito Walkway.