Erin Rafferty

Civic Orchestra of Chicago Portraits

Violist. World traveler. Lapsed Southerner. Beer seeker. New music lover.

Ever since she was in her first opera at age four, Erin Rafferty has loved being involved in music. Whether it’s the children’s chorus in La Boheme or an experimental concert with toy piano in a brewery, she considers herself ready and willing to try anything once.

Erin grew up spending her summers at the Brevard Music Center, where she learned to love the orchestral repertoire. She attended that festival sixteen times, six of which were as a student. Other summers have taken her to the Aspen Music Festival and School, the National Orchestral Institute, Domaine Forget’s new music session, and CCM’s Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy. She has played in numerous professional orchestras, including the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Northbrook Symphony, Orchestra Kentucky Bowling Green, the Owensboro Symphony, and the Evansville Philharmonic.

Fascinated by the challenge and living spark of new music, Erin is a founding member of the electro-acoustic ensemble Second/Cycle, as well as a member of Chicago’s Fonema Consort. She has been a featured soloist at Electronic Music Midwest and the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States. She has previously been a member of Indiana University’s New Music Ensemble, where she collaborated with David Dzubay, Frederic Rzewski, and Joan Tower.

As a traditional chamber musician, Erin has collaborated with Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, and has been in residence at the Lexington (KY) July Project. She often appears in concert with her father, violinist J. Patrick Rafferty, most recently at the Norges Musikkhøgskole in Oslo, Norway, and on WUOL’s Lunchtime Classics.

Erin received her master’s degree from Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she was the winner of the Geraldine Gee Scholarship and graduated cum laude. Her major teachers include Atar Arad, Roberto Diaz, Masao Kawasaki, and Catharine Carroll.

Q & A w/ ERIN

Years in Chicago?
This is my third year in Chicago.

If I weren’t a musician, I would probably be…

A writer, I think. I’m basically destined to be broke no matter what I do.

Favorite composer or piece?
You really can’t go wrong with Mahler, especially the “Resurrection” Symphony. Mahler’s long and takes a lot of concentration to get into, but he was right—his symphonies really do contain the whole world within them.

Favorite Chicago neighborhood or favorite Chicago hang?
I’m still exploring—there’s so much to see!—but I’ve always been able to find new things to do and awesome things to eat in Lakeview.

If you could get any fashion store to sponsor the Civic’s concert attire makeover, what would it be?
Well, I would dress almost exclusively from Anthropologie if I could afford it, but I have to say, I’ve always wanted to see Project Runway designers take a stab at redoing concert attire, so I would make that a challenge on the next season. There has to be something more creative you can do with all black!

Photo by Todd Rosenberg ©.