Backstage Pass: Daniel Strba, viola

Backstage Pass: Daniel Strba, viola

Marcia & me at the 2018 Houston Symphony Ball

Violist Daniel Strba began his professional career at age 17 when he became a member of the United States Army Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C. where he performed for official state functions at The White House. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Chicago’s DePaul University and a master’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He became a member of the Houston Symphony in 1992 under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach. During his free time, Dan continues his three-decade long association performing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Pursuing his passion for playing chamber music, he became a member of Chicago’s Governor State University Resident String Quartet and The Chicago Ensemble.

Here in Houston, Dan is a longtime member of The Greenbriar Consortium and the Foundation for Modern Music. Dan’s varied career includes a seven-year stint as a member of The Frank Sinatra Orchestra. In addition to viola, Dan also plays piano and guitar. In 1997, he and his wife, Marcia, formed Black Tie Music Productions, home to The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas and the Swing Serenade Dance Orchestra.

An onstage selfie with Christoph Eschenbach and former Houston Symphony violist Rita Porfiris

Your last name seems to be missing some vowels. What is its origin and how do you pronounce it?

Every day someone asks me, “Are you sure that’s how you spell it?!” The name originates in Slovakia where there is a famous ski resort in the Tatra mountains named Strba. In Slovak, it’s spelled Štrba and pronounced “Shtearba.” One of my friends used to joke, “Here comes Dan ‘No Vowel ’til the End.’” But for ease, feel free to add an e, i, or u.

Would you like to share a memorable moment or highlight from your career?

My wife, a violinist, and I spent seven years touring with Frank Sinatra and his 60-piece orchestra. What a thrill it was to perform night after night with the Chairman of the Board! In 1992, I became a member of the Houston Symphony just in time to join Maestro Christoph Eschenbach and the orchestra on their European tour. The final concert of that tour was at Vienna’s famed Musikverein, the very hall where Brahms and Mahler performed more than 100 years before. Our performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony that night was unforgettable! It was an honor and privilege to perform again with Maestro Eschenbach on his return engagement last month.

Marcia in the temple complex at Madurai in Tamil Nadu, India

What hobbies and interests do you have outside of music?

I am a longtime Tai Chi Chuan and Kundalini yoga practitioner. I teach Tai Chi to a small class of Houston Symphony musicians during our lunch breaks. These practices keep us strong, flexible, and relaxed in order to help counter the physical and mental challenges of orchestra playing. My wife, Marcia, and I recently took an epic journey to South India following the path of our yoga lineage. We look forward to returning in the not-too-distant future.

Daniel Strba is sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Jesse B. Tutor.

Top: On stage in Essen, Germany, during last year’s Houston Symphony European tour

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