Name: Hannah Thomas-Hollands
Birthplace: Houston, TX
Member since: 2014
1. How did you get started in music?
My parents knew that music education was
really important regardless of eventual hobbies, passions, and career choice,
so I started doing kindermusik (elementary music education for young children)
when I was three or four and took up cello when I was six and ready for my first
2. Why did you choose your instrument?
My sister played the violin, and I had no
intention of picking the same instrument that she did! I knew I liked the
string sound though, so cello it was.
3. What made you want to join Grand Rapids Symphony?
They were looking for a cellist, and I was looking for a job! A
lot of symphony musicians find careers this way: show up to an audition, get
the job (hopefully!), and then move there without knowing a whole lot about the
area. I was born in Houston, grew up just outside Washington DC, went to
Cleveland for my undergrad and then Dallas for my Masters; moving somewhere
totally new didn't really scare me. And, not surprisingly, I love it here
in Grand Rapids--everyone is really kind, it's a good size, the food scene is
great, and the beer is unparalleled. There's a lot to love about this
4. What would you consider to be the
musical highlight of your career?
don't think it has happened yet! I still have a lot of music and
performing ahead of me, and it would be sad to think that my peak is already
5. What are you most looking forward to performing during the 15-16 season?
We're doing so many great pieces, it's so
hard to pick just one! However, if I had to pick my personal top two, it
would probably be Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and Debussy's "La Mer." They're both such evocative pieces in totally different ways, and ones that you
don't hear every day (or season).
6. When you’re not rehearsing or performing, what do you enjoy doing?
I have a pretty big private studio, so my
students keep me pretty busy outside of performing! I love teaching, and
it makes me a better player myself since I have to explain what I'm doing, and
why, to somebody else. Outside of cello, though, I like to stay
physically active, and I'm an indoor cycling instructor for Snap Fitness as
well. I also run and do Bikram yoga (call me crazy), and I like to cook
to fuel my body for doing all of this exercise!
7. What is your favorite restaurant in Grand Rapids?
Though I love a lot of places in Grand Rapids
and am totally into the sustainable food movement that's thriving in the
community, hands down my favorite is Bartertown Diner. I happen to live
around the corner, and it's so dangerous, but so delicious.
8. What is a song we would be
surprised to know is on your IPod/IPhone?
No Diggity by Blackstreet. Classical
music is awesome, but every once in awhile, it's fun to break it down to some
old school hip hop.
9. If you had the chance to have dinner with one famous
musician, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?
Again, this is a tough choice here, but I'm
going to go with the late Van Cliburn. He was actually my commencement
speaker when I graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2012, just
months before he passed away, and he just had so many wonderful insights about
music and life in general. He was such a kind person, and I know he was
full of more stories than I was able to hear that one day I heard him speak.
10. What would you like people to know about the Grand Rapids Symphony?
That it's great for EVERYONE. I feel
like some people think it's such a "classy" thing to do, and it is--but it's also accessible! You don't have to wear a fur coat, and you
don't have to have a lot of money. Just show up as you are and let your
life be changed by what you hear.