Chance McDermott


Photos by Matt Dine


First Place, 2018 Wayne State University Concerto Competition; Finalist, 2020 University of Delaware Concerto Competition


National Orchestral Institute, 2022–23; Westside Chamber Players, 2022–23; Virtual Virtuosi Academy, 2020

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

Watching a VHS tape of a performance of the Nutcracker on the TV in my living room, using two large wooden kitchen spoons to simulate playing the violin along with the recording. 

Was there a teacher who was particularly impactful/helpful? What made this instructor stand out?

My most recent teacher at Mannes, Rebecca Fischer. She has such an incredibly warm and inviting presence and she made me approach and think about music in a different, more holistic way. 

What made you decide to become a musician? Was there a particular performance or person that influenced your decision?

In high school, I saw the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra play a concert featuring Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. At this point, I enjoyed the playing the violin, but didn’t really have any aspirations beyond that. I had never played in any orchestra outside of my school’s small string orchestra either. So seeing young students play difficult repertoire at a near-professional level was so inspiring to me. 

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply?

I had several colleagues from school and summer festivals who went to TŌN and told me great things about it. Knowing that playing in an orchestra is what I want to do with my life, TŌN offers a great opportunity to become accustomed to the lifestyle while still providing opportunities to learn and prepare for the orchestral audition process.

How would you like to see orchestra concerts evolve in the future?

It’s already starting to become more prominent, but more concerts involving film music. Scores for current movies (and even TV and video games) are so good and I think concerts that highlight this music will provide a fun and new experience for veteran as well as new classical music concert-goers to enjoy.

What is the most memorable performance you ever had?

Participating in a self-led orchestra without a conductor at the National Orchestral Institute in 2022. That was my first time playing in such a large group without a conductor, and we ran everything ourselves; that included managing rehearsal time, making musical decisions, and delegating tasks. It was very challenging, but extremely rewarding once we had our successful performance of Copland’s Music for Theatre Suite.

What is your proudest achievement as a musician?

Winning the Wayne State University Concerto Competition and getting to perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 as a soloist with the orchestra

Is there a person or people you most respect in your field and why?

JoAnn Falletta. I was able to work with her at the National Orchestral Institute in 2022 and I really responded to how she approached and thought about music, in addition to her extremely kind spirit. 

Can you share any memorable onstage mishaps?

My shoulder rest fell off during a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnole. I had to complete the last five minutes without it!