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When a symphony musician stands out with her vigorous style

December 11, 2010 | 12:30 pm

CarrieSay “symphony orchestra” to people on the street and they'll think of a mass-musician unit, an aggregate of many — all playing as one, no instrumentalist standing out from the others in a given section, except in a solo passage.

Yet for two years — up on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage — you couldn’t miss Carrie Dennis, even while surrounded by 100-plus other Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians.

Why? Because in most performances, the orchestra’s principal violist pops out of the picture. She dives down on a given accent, thrusts into the heart of it with startling vigor, her head impelled to her knees, her elbow raised high as she strikes her bow across the strings. By the final cadence, her neatly arranged hair is flying loose. Whatever it takes.

“I'm not sure what's going on around me,” says Dennis. “Or if I'm influencing my section or not. The only thing I'm aware of is the music and bringing it out.”

Click here to read more about Carrie Dennis and what her fellow musicians think of her playing style.

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times