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Meet your Florida Orchestra members: Alison Heydt, viola

Alison Heydt, who plays viola for the Florida Orchestra, says she enjoys listening to piano music on her MP3 player.

Times (2004)

Alison Heydt, who plays viola for the Florida Orchestra, says she enjoys listening to piano music on her MP3 player.

With the orchestra since: 1992

Originally from: Bethlehem, Pa.

Education: Oberlin Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music

Age I started studying my instrument: I started on the violin in public school, with group lessons, in fourth grade (age 8). I switched to viola four years later. I am the poster child for good public school music education.

If I weren't doing this, I'd be: When I was little, I wanted to be a writer. I still think that sounds terrific.

My iPod's usually playing: Don't have an iPod — I have a less expensive, very basic MP3 player that I barely know how to use. Lots of Bela Fleck, Yellowjackets, Steely Dan, Intervision (a Portland band that deserves lots more recognition). For a string player, I listen to a surprising amount of piano music, and surprisingly little string music.

Last book I read was: The Tenth Door by Michelle Hebert (a book about yoga).

I'm an expert at: I'm told I make great muffins.

But I'm really lousy at: Computers terrify me. I know that mine tries to be friendly and helpful to me, but we don't seem to speak the same language.

Dream vacation: Walking tour of the English coast.

The question you're asked most often about your instrument:

Q: "What's a viola?" (pronounced vee-o-la, not vi-o-la)

Me: "It's a little bigger than a violin."

Q: "Oh, is that the one you have to sit to play?"

Me: "No, that's a cello; smaller than that."

Q: "Okay, I don't know then."

Me: (mental sigh) "No one ever does." But then if my viola's handy, and I'm able to play it for them, they suddenly realize a viola's the best thing ever.

. Florida Orchestra: Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4

Acclaimed German pianist Peter Rösel performs Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 on this program with Luciano Berio's orchestration of Contrapunctus XIX from Bach's The Art of Fugue. The evening concludes with Shostakovich's final symphony, No. 15. Shows are 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $20-$67. (727) 892-3337

Meet your Florida Orchestra members: Alison Heydt, viola 03/09/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 3:30am]

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