After hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. Since then, she has won multiple tenured positions in symphonic orchestras from Richmond to Phoenix and has performed on a variety of domestic and international tours including the Washington National Opera Japan tour under the leadership of Placido Domingo and the 2012 Carnegie Hall appearance with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
She currently serves as concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and began developing her leadership skills at the renowned Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University with former Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Herbert Greenberg. In recent seasons she has enjoyed serving as guest concertmaster for the Columbus Symphony (OH), Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and a one year appointment as interim concertmaster for Orchestra Iowa.
As an in-demand performer, Holly maintains a very busy schedule serving as traveling concertmaster for the Emmy Award winner George Daugherty’s Bugs Bunny at the Symphony program and performing with Grammy award winning Nashville Symphony and Milwaukee Symphony. She can also be seen as featured soloist on the PBS special, A Christmas Carol, The Concert.
She spends her summers at the celebrated Grand Teton Music Festival where in addition to performing in the violin section and assistant concertmaster, Holly volunteers as an active chamber musician. In the summer of 2011, she performed Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s Piano Trio under Ms. Higdon’s direct supervision. Following the performance, Higdon said “Working with Holly Mulcahy was fantastic. She’s a superb musician and a great colleague. I always think my Piano Trio is a great test for violinists, because it has such wildly varying moods: long and lyrical lines, delicately played, and then racing and driving rhythms, moving at top speeds with intensity. Holly nailed it all splendidly. I would work with her again any chance I could. She was wonderful.”
Passionate about all things etiquette, Holly makes her home in Chicago, IL, where she maintains a reputation for planning and hosting exquisite gourmet parties. In addition to an active performing career, she is the author of Neo Classical, a monthly column on the future of classical music. She enjoys gardening, organic cooking, and spoiling her cats. A lover of all things outdoors, she aspires to start her own organic farm.
Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.
What convinced you to pursue a career in music?
Watching the Denver Symphony perform Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite as a kid made such an impression on me. I witnessed the audience lose themselves and become transfixed in the music and realized that the most powerful music was sometimes the quietest. I wanted to be part of the magic.
Where did you go to school and who did you study with?
During my undergraduate and graduate years at The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, I studied with Shirley Givens and the former concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony, Herbert Greenberg.
How did you choose your instrument?
The violin solo in Scheherazade was so mesmerizing to me as a child. The story absolutely captivated me for my entire 3rd grade life and when it came time to choose instruments, violin seemed obvious.
What do you want music lovers to know about your instrument?
My violin was owned by the late Eugene Fodor, first American prize winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition. I happened to run into Gene as he was dropping off the instrument with our mutual violin repairman and fell in love with it on the spot and bought it directly from him. This 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin holds a lot of sentimental value to me as Gene was one of my childhood idols.
What music are you listening to right now?
Typically I’m listening to whatever I’m preparing for in upcoming weeks. But when I’m not in research mode, I like to listen to music from Westerns and James Bond films.
What is on your nightstand, iPad, Kindle etc.?
I have several months of cooking magazines and books about food stacked up on my nightstand.
What is your favorite Chattanooga hangout?
Any place with good food, coffee, and/or donuts.
Who is your favorite composer and/or favorite piece?
Prokofiev is my favorite composer, and his Romeo and Juliet suites are favorite pieces.
Working with Holly Mulcahy was fantastic. She’s a superb musician and a great colleague. I always think my Piano Trio is a great test for violinists, because it has such wildly varying moods: long and lyrical lines, delicately played, and then racing and driving rhythms, moving at top speeds with intensity. Holly nailed it all splendidly. I would work with her again any chance I could. She was wonderful.– Jennifer Higdon; composer