Associate Professor of Music, Viola; Chair, String Department; Director, Viola Workshop, BU Tanglewood Institute
Violist Michelle LaCourse, an active soloist and chamber musician, has appeared on four continents, including recent performances in France, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Brazil, China, South Korea, and many parts of the USA. Her playing has been described by critics in such terms as “a miraculous blend of intense passion and artistic elegance” and “has a mastery of the instrument like a sixth sense, and with it reveals to us the most profound secrets.” An enthusiastic advocate for new viola repertoire, she has also commissioned and premiered many new pieces for the instrument. Her 2009 recording, “Chocolates: Music for Viola and Piano by James Grant” was released by MSR Classics (msrcd.com, MS1335) to rave reviews, praising “the raw emotion of her playing” and calling the disc “enough to make one reframe one’s image of the viola”. Her 2015 release on MSR, “An American Menagerie: Music for Viola and Piano by Martin Amlin, Robert Merfeld, and Monica Houghton” (MS1474) received high praise from Fanfare Magazine, noting “stellar performances,” including playing “in the sweetest and most exquisite way imaginable”, “stunningly realized”, and calling the recording “A surefire winner.” Audiophile Audition declared the disc “A gorgeous recital.”
LaCourse was formerly a member of the Lehigh Quartet, the Delphic String Trio and the Aeolian Trio. She currently performs with the Pangaea Chamber Players, the Convergence Ensemble, and several other groups, as well as frequently appearing as solo recitalist. She has performed at numerous festivals such as Aspen, Bowdoin, Eastern, Interlochen, Skaneateles, Musicorda, the Heifetz Institute, and the International Festivals of Campos do Jordão (Brazil), of Positano (Italy), and of Vianden (Luxembourg), as well as at some of the world’s leading concert venues, such as Vienna’s Musikverein, Berlin’s Kammermusiksaal and Washington’s Kennedy Center. As an orchestral musician, she has performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, was co-principal of the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and was formerly principal violist of the Chamber Orchestra of Grenoble France.
She holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she was for many years teaching assistant to renowned pedagogue Karen Tuttle. Ms. LaCourse currently teaches viola and chairs the String Department at Boston University’s School of Music, where she was awarded BU’s Metcalf Cup and Prize, the university’s highest honor for excellence in teaching. Co-author of “The Karen Tuttle Legacy: A Resource and Guide for Viola Students, Teachers, and Performers,” she frequently presents master classes at music schools across the United States and internationally, and during the summer months she also teaches and performs at the annual Karen Tuttle Viola Workshops, at BU’s Tanglewood Institute where she is Director of the Viola Workshop, and at a number of other festivals and workshops. Many of her former students currently enjoy playing and teaching positions around the globe.
- World Premiere Recording: “Chocolates: Music for Viola and Piano by James Grant” on MSR Classics (msrcd.com, MS1335)
- World Premiere Recording: “An American Menagerie: Music for Viola and Piano by Martin Amlin, Robert Merfeld, and Monica Houghton” on MSR Classics (msrcd.com, MS1474)
- Co-author of “The Karen Tuttle Legacy: A Resource and Guide for Viola Students, Teachers, and Performers,” (Carl Fischer, 2020)
Boston University’s Metcalf Cup and Prize, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching