Michael Halbrook


Photos by Matt Dine


2nd Place, 2018 and 2019 University of South Carolina Concerto Competition


Aspen Music Festival and School, 2022–23; Bowdoin International Music Festival, 2020; Orford Music Academy, 2019; International Sommerakademie Bad Leonfelden, 2019; Brancaleoni International Music Festival, Piobbico, Italy, 2018, 2019; Harvard Music Festival, 2018–19; Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, Burlington, VA, 2016–18

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

Since I was young I was always so fascinated by the stars and space. My biggest dream was to become an astronaut. In my undergrad I studied physics for two years before switching to music ,and it remains another passion of mine.

What is a surprising part of playing your instrument that you think most people don’t know?

Contrary to what the eye sees, the bow hand is far more difficult to master than the left hand. Even though the left hand of any string player is the one that does all of the fast movements playing all the notes, shifting, vibrato, etc., the right hand (bow hand) is actually the one I spend so much more time figuring out. The bow is responsible for producing the sound, so trying to gain control over your hand and arm in order to serve you in pulling any color or sound you want is a never-ending journey.

What is the biggest challenge and/or surprise about playing in an orchestra?

The biggest challenge in an orchestra is the sheer size of it. It is often said the playing in an orchestra is no different than being in a chamber ensemble. This is true, however, it takes a while to train your ear to listen across a stage of musicians in order to connect with a particular section so you can play together.

What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now?

I wish I knew how to be more patient. If I was calmer in my practice and didn’t beat myself up as much, I would have avoided ingraining bad habits that I spent even more effort to undo (still am trying).