Ulster County Executive's Arts Awards 2023
ARTS IN EDUCATION
After teaching as an adjunct professor of violin and viola at New York University and Temple University, Anastasia Solberg founded the Music Institute of Sullivan and Ulster Counties (MISU) in 2001. “There was just a need for a community orchestra and we filled it,” she says. “And all these years later, I keep finding violin players—some say they haven’t played in 40 years—and they want to be a part of it. “
For her efforts, Anastasia has been awarded the Ulster County Executive’s Arts Award for Arts Education.
Today, the school, now located in Ellenville, offers private instruction in violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, voice, chamber music and fosters multiple community string ensembles for all ages and abilities, including a preparatory program for college and conservatory bound musicians.
Anastasia, who has been the violist for the American Festival of Microtonal Music since 1996 and has many world premiers to her credit, says there are between 30-50 students at the school at any given time. “It’s a mish-mash of people. I have had an age range of 13 to 90 in the same group. I think the intergenerational things is really important.”
She notes that the population that has really grown over time is the amount of adults who want to return to the violin. “I have also had a couple of teenagers who started as teens who then went on to major in music in college. I think that the quality that I offer, that may be different than someone else, is that I take everybody seriously—just as seriously as if they were going to be a professional violinist. So just because you’re 55 years old and want to play the violin does not mean that I’m gonna baby you with a couple of silly songs that you can play and not worry about if you really hold the instrument correctly or if you really make the correct sound. I keep on pushing people as far as they can go.”