Born in Quito, Ecuador, Catalina Alvarez discovered her love for the violin while studying at Ecuador’s National Symphony’s school of music and at the National Conservatory. After graduating high school, Catalina made the move to the USA to further her education, where she earned various scholarships and awards and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Louisville and Cum Laude from Yale University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Violin Performance, respectively. During her time in Louisville, Catalina studied under Michel Samson, a proponent of the Galamian school of violin playing, and later on in Yale she studied under Erick Friedman, the most recognized student of the great Jasha Heifetz. While in the USA, she also received chamber music coachings with the Tokyo String Quartet and Charlie Castleman at The Quartet Program, and attended master classes with Sally Thomas, Nigel Kennedy, and Cho-Liang Lin. Catalina’s curiosity for different styles and approaches to violin playing then took her to Europe, where she studied under Joan Berkhemer and Jaap van Zweden for seven years. Having absorbed so much knowledge from different sources and schools of thought over the years, Catalina decided she would like to share this with others. She thus pursued a degree in pedagogy at the Amsterdam Conservatory and started giving private violin lessons to children and young adults at different levels.
Professionally, Catalina has taken her talents across the globe. Upon graduating high school, she began playing as a first violin in the Ecuadorian National Symphony Orchestra. Later on, during her time studying in Louisville, she would often make the trip back home to give soloist performances with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Guayaquil Symphony Orchestra. She also performed at various chamber music concerts both in Ecuador and the USA. Whilst in Europe, Catalina worked freelance, mainly with the Radio Symfonie Orkest, Nederlands Symfonie Orkest, Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest. She then moved to Southeast Asia, where she played for 21 years with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. During her time there, she joined the orchestra in touring to various other countries, including Japan and Australia, and worked with many notable conductors and soloists the likes of Lorin Mazel and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
In Malaysia, Catalina continued teaching and forming young minds in the art of music performance and appreciation. She worked on various projects of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra’s Education and Outreach Program, most notably the Junior Violin Program, of which she was a co-founder. There began in 2006 the partnership with Lillian Wang. Utilizing the Kodaly, Suzuki, and Zweig methods of music instruction, they sparked the love of music in her students, several of whom went on to integrate the children's and youth orchestras of the MPO.
Catalina enjoys spending time in nature, especially when cycling, hiking and gardening.
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