An Evening with Claudia Chudacoff

Blog written by Alix McDonough

Claudia Chudacoff, Chamber Dance Project’s first violinist and principal quartet musician, joined Sean Neidlinger, cellist, in a performance at Old Town Alexandria’s intimate Concert Hall.  Their works included Zoltan Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello.  This is Claudia’s sixth season with Chamber Dance Project.

After the performance, I enjoyed talking with Claudia about her illustrious career.  She is principal violinist and concertmaster of the National Gallery Orchestra and the Alexandria Symphony.  She has recently retired as a concertmaster of the US Marine Band’s White House Chamber Orchestra.    She performs regularly as a member of the Sunrise Quartet both locally and internationally.

I was curious to know what inspired her to become a musician.  She told me that her mother was a violinist.  Claudia wanted to play the violin for as long as she can remember.

“I feel as though playing music requires me to use my brain, heart and body together in such a way that perpetually keeps me both interested and challenged.”

Claudia has played with many ballet companies including the Washington Ballet and several other touring companies.

Chamber Dance Project is unique in bringing musicians right onto the stage with the dancers.  I asked Claudia to talk about the difference between performing with Chamber Dance Project and other companies.

She told me that she is usually in an orchestra pit, following a conductor, who in turn, is following the dancers.  Because she can’t see the dancers, she doesn’t know what’s happening while she plays.  When she is performing with Chamber Dance Project there is no conductor.

“I can see the dancers, and I definitely know what is happening on stage because I’m on stage too!”

How does Claudia work/collaborate with Diane, Artistic Director of Chamber Dance Project?

“It’s pretty much give and take.  If I am really excited about a piece for the quartet, Diane is open to listening to it.  If she likes it, she will try to program it, either with or without dancers.  Mostly, I have input about the string quartet portion of the program.”

“I mostly suggest music that I love. It can be any style or era.  Sometimes another work ends up on the program, and sometimes I end up loving that too.”

Are there any parting words that Claudia wants to share with me?

“I love the quartet for CDP and the dancers are beautiful too!”

Photo by Tanya Green