Violin/Viola; Conducting; Chamber Music; String Pedagogy
Research InterestsDEI in string repertoire and pedagogy; contemporary violin techniques
PSC; Contemporary/Chamber Music, The Boston Conservatory
M.M.: Violin Performance, The Boston Conservatory
B.M.: Violin Performance, St. Olaf College
Violinist Nicole Parks uses her career as a performer and educator to bring new music and inclusive programming to a wide range of audiences. She is a co-founder of the Semiosis Quartet, a string quartet that focuses on the music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Previously, she created and conducted The Lirica Chamber Ensemble to play rarely heard and new works for chamber orchestra.
In August 2019, Semiosis Quartet appeared at Tanglewood with Bill Barclay and Concert Theatre Works in a production of The Chevalier, featuring the music of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. They have also been presented by Ogni Suono, and The Boston New Music Initiative; Oh My Ears! Festival in Phoenix, the International Alliance for Women in Music Conference, New Music Gathering, the Re:Sound New Music Festival in Cleveland, the Cortona Sessions for New Music, and the Deer Valley Music Festival. As the recipient of a grant from the American Music Project, the quartet presented a program of American women composers including Florence Price, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Shelley Washington, and Caroline Shaw. The quartet has performed at festivals including Deeply committed to music education, Semiosis is on the faculty at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s High School Composition Intensive, and has worked closely with student composers, musicians, and faculty at Tufts University, MIT, and Bowling Green State University.
Nicole is in demand as a soloist, chamber musician, and an orchestral musician. She currently holds concertmaster positions with the Philharmonic Society of Arlington and appears regularly with ensembles such as the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera, Guerilla Opera, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Monadnock Music, the Rhode Island Philharmonic and various other ensembles both large and small.
The recipient of many honors, Roberts was awarded a "Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition" from the U.S. House of Representatives for her "outstanding and invaluable service to the community"; the University of Michigan "Presidential Professor" - "one of the highest honors bestowed on visiting artists and scholars" - for her work with the Sphinx Symphony; and the 2007 University of Massachusetts "President’s Public Service Award" in recognition of exemplary public service to the Commonwealth.
Nicole serves as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she conducts the University Orchestra, leads conducting courses, and teaches violin/viola. She also directs the UML String Project and Lowell Youth Orchestra. These organizations are part of the National String Project Consortium which offers affordable string instruction to youth and gives undergraduate students the experience and skills needed to develop as educators and leaders.
Nicole shares conducting duties with her fellow educators at The Governor's School of North Carolina where they present orchestral programs of exclusively contemporary music. She also conducted the recorded premier of Amber Vistein’s Dark Exhalation at Brown University in 2022, and will be presenting the live premier in the fall of 2023. She was the Music Director and Founder of the Lirica Chamber Orchestra in Minneapolis, MN where she commissioned seven new works in one season and paired them with both standard and contemporary repertoire. She has led youth ensembles in the Greater Boston area including the Junior String Ensemble and the Chamber Orchestra (asst. conductor) at the Community Music Center of Boston, and the West Side Strings program at Concord Conservatory, in Concord, MA.
Nicole serves as Immediate Past-President of the Massachusetts chapter of the American String Teacher's Association. She maintains a private violin/viola studio in greater Arlington in addition to her work at UMass Lowell. Additionally, she has taught at performance and education workshops, including BIMA at Brandeis University and the Minnesota All-State Festival, and coached chamber music at Stringwood. Nicole is currently on the violin faculty at the Governor’s School of North Carolina, where she leads daily discussion based classes focus on history, theory, trends in contemporary music and culture, diversity/inclusivity in the classical music world, improvisation, and other related topics. The school’s faculty frequently provide interdisciplinary seminars combining STEM subjects with the arts.
Not only is she an avid performer and educator, but she is active as an arts administrator. She is the primary administrator for the Semiosis Quartet and the String Project at UMass Lowell, serves as a board member on a number of Boards of Directors, and is the Area I Coordinator for the Governor’s School of North Carolina, a position that showcases her organization, creativity, and leadership skills.
Nicole holds a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from St. Olaf College and a Master of Music and Professional Studies Certificate from The Boston Conservatory, where she studied violin performance and pedagogy with Sharan Leventhal. A native of Minnesota, Nicole is currently based in Arlington, MA with her husband Aaron Jay Myers, and her two cats, Dmitri and Waldo.