Passion, dedication, vision, discipline – these are a few of the building blocks of excellence in any field. Violinist Kimberly Fisher is one of the musical elite of our time, having built a well-rounded career both a performer and pedagogue. Ms. Fisher holds the Peter A. Benoliel Principal Second Violin Chair with The Philadelphia Orchestra, maintains an active schedule as a recitalist and chamber musician, teaches individual lessons and masterclasses, and serves as Artistic Director of the Philadelphia International Music Festival, an enterprise she co-founded in 1997. In addition to all of this activity, Ms. Fisher is also active as a soloist, having performed with the Vancouver Symphony, the Victoria Symphony, and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Most recently, Ms. Fisher helped Philadelphians ring in 2019, appearing on New Year’s Eve as a soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra alongside Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin for a set of three Kreisler gems, arranged for violin and orchestra by Clark McAlister, on a program that also included orchestral favorites by Strauss Jr., Tchaikovsky, and Bernstein. Ms. Fisher is exceptionally dedicated to the continued success of The Philadelphia Orchestra, as evidenced by her being awarded the orchestra’s 2017 C. Hartman Kuhn award, an award given annually “to the member of The Philadelphia Orchestra who has shown ability and enterprise of such character as to enhance the standards and reputation of The Philadelphia Orchestra.” Holding a principal chair in a major orchestra is a significant responsibility – Ms. Fisher’s musicianship, industry, and charisma have her up to the task of leading a section of violinists who are each in their own right exceptional players.
The schedule of a professional orchestral player is particularly rigorous – during the performance season the orchestra typically gives 3-4 performances a week. Musicians must make time to prepare all the repertoire and attend rehearsals. As a principal player, Ms. Fisher is held to a slightly higher standard; she is a resource and standard-setter for her section. The responsibility of her position would be enough to keep anyone busy, but Ms. Fisher has an exceptional enthusiasm for music about her. While the orchestra takes a brief weeklong hiatus in mid-January, Ms. Fisher will dedicate her time to an appearance in recital.
On February 3rd at 2:00 PM, Ms. Fisher will present a Winter Concert at Bryn Mawr College alongside pianist Dr. Mark Livshits in a recital that includes works by Mozart, Brahms, Kreisler, and Smetana. The program is shared with violinist Madison Marcucci and pianist Svetlana Smolina performing Wieniawksi and Franck. All performers are on the faculty of the Philadelphia International Music Festival, an organization which owes its inception to the earliest interactions between Ms. Marcucci and Ms. Fisher.
While considering opportunities for the wellbeing of her private violin students, Ms. Fisher came up with the idea to invite her students over to her home during their summer break for semi-supervised days of practice. Students would arrived with packed lunches and setup in upstairs rooms in her home, and she would drop in on them to impart guidance. It just so happened that one of her then students, Madison Marcucci, came from a family with experience in organizing summer festivals and recreational camps. From there, a union of expertises was forged, and the foundation for the Philadelphia International Music Festival was laid. What was initially a summer music practice camp for string players, under the guidance of Ms. Fisher and PIMF President Sandy Marcucci, has become an organization that today serves over 400 students each summer for weeks of intensive music education with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra at Bryn Mawr College.
Ms. Fisher’s career has been built upon seizing opportunities for productivity and musical activity. Her dedication and discipline has lead her to holding a Principal Chair with one of the world’s finest orchestras, and her vision and passion were integral to the founding of the Philadelphia International Music Festival, an organization which now, in its 22nd year of operations, has to date reached thousands of young musicians.