The St. Louis Symphony announced today that Associate Concertmaster Heidi Harris is the first recipient of The Mabel Dorn Reeder Honorary Chair. The newly created chair announced in July 2010 was established with a $2 million endowment gift from the Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation, and is awarded based on merit for a period of five years to a musician of the St. Louis Symphony who demonstrates both excellence in artistry and leadership within the orchestra and the community. The award may be granted to a tenured orchestra member and carries a one-time stipend to support professional development.
Mabel Purkerson, Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation Trustee, said: “Mabel Reeder, my godmother, loved the St. Louis Symphony and was extremely generous to it. We at the Foundation felt that we could both further her legacy and support the wonderful music-making of the St. Louis Symphony with an award that recognized the individual efforts of the musicians themselves. This award not only acknowledges artistic talent, but so many other things that go into being a valued member of this orchestra, which includes a commitment to the St. Louis community.”
Violinist Heidi Harris won her first orchestra job in the St. Louis Symphony during her senior year of college at the New England Conservatory. A few years later she left the St. Louis Symphony to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where she remained for three seasons. In 1998 she returned to the St. Louis Symphony as Assistant Concertmaster, and shortly thereafter earned her current position as Associate Concertmaster. Harris began her musical studies on the piano at age three, and began studying the violin at age four. At age 13 she made her solo debut with the Utah Symphony under the baton of Joseph Silverstein, returning again to solo with the same orchestra at ages 15 and 19. After graduating high school from the Interlochen Arts Academy , Harris went on to earn her Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory, attending under full scholarship. Harris also served as an extra in the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, participating in recordings with Bernard Haitink, as well as touring with the BSO while still in school. Harris has soloed extensively, as well as given recitals in the U.S. and Europe in such venues as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston , and the Mozarteum in Germany . Her most recent concerto appearances have been with Leonard Slatkin conducting, in performances of Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and with David Robertson conducting, in performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4, both with the St. Louis Symphony. As well as recital and solo performances, Harris has served as guest concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony. All of Harris’ solo and recital performances benefit Livada Orphan Care. Heidi Harris performs on a G.B. Guadagnini violin, dated 1753.