About Carolyn

Carolyn Semes is a versatile and compelling violinist, whose expertise spans the great solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire.  Her playing has been described as “a carefree confidence that strives for the classical ideal within the spontaneous moment“, as well as “startling emotional maturity.”

Carolyn has performed as soloist with orchestras including The Newark Symphony (Delaware) the Old York Road Symphony, The Ambler Symphony, The Delaware County Symphony and The Temple University Orchestra.  She performed with The Shanghai Philharmonic, live at The Shanghai Concert Hall, and on “The Weekly Radio Broadcast”. Carolyn has performed from a young age with her three Juilliard-trained violinist sisters.  The four have performed with in numerous venues including The Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts. As soloists they have played with The Olney Symphony, The Ocean City Pops and with The Macau Youth Orchestra as part of their 10th Anniversary Concert. She has also been heard in Hong Kong on RTHK’s “The Children’s Hour”, in Philadelphia on WRTI and WHYY’s “President’s Dinner”.

Carolyn has performed extensively as a chamber musician. With the Voda quartet, through Music Academy of the West, she performed throughout the summer of 2017. Other recent highlights are Schubert’s Octet at Chamberfest 2017 at The Juilliard School. In 2014, Carolyn, along with The Snitzer Quartet, was awarded a prize at The Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.  They were later featured on “From the Top”, live from Jordan Hall and later aired on NPR’s “From the Top” broadcast.  As a part of the Snitzer Quartet, she performed at diverse venues such as the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, throughout Metropolitan Philadelphia, and at The Boston’s Children’s Museum. Carolyn also enjoys collaborating with other artists. She performed in the Composers and Choreographers 2015 at Juilliard, performing new works of Juilliard composers for dancers and instrumentalists.

Carolyn has always thrived on collaboration with other musicians. As such, she has been a dedicated orchestral player.  She performed as Concertmaster of The Music Academy of the West under Matthew Aucoin, performingthe premiere of Aucoin’s own work, Suite from Crossing. She has also performed in The Juilliard Orchestra, The Juilliard Opera, and The Juilliard Lab Orchestra-dedicated to the training of future conductors.  During her several summers at The Aspen Music Festival, Carolyn has been a Fellowship recipient and performed in The Aspen Festival Orchestra, The Aspen Chamber Symphony, and The American Academy of Conducting in Aspen Orchestra.  

Carolyn has a commitment to community engagement as has been her practice for the entirety of her career.  Her commitment to being an artist as citizen spans far and wide. As a Gluck Community Music Fellowship recipient, she has performed in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and senior centers across the five boroughs of New York City. She has performed benefit concerts for initiatives such as JoyJthrough The Blessed Sacrament Church on the Upper West Side as a way of providing for the poor in the neighborhood where she herself lives. Carolyn and the Snitzer quartet have performed, coached, and played side by sided with Inner city schools in both Indiana and Philadelphia. The quartet has raised money for reconstruction of the Cuidad de los Ninos de la Inmaculada, an orphanage in Lima, Peru.

Carolyn started the violin at age three.  Currently, she is a scholarship recipient at The Juilliard School with an expected 2019 graduation date.  Prior to Juilliard, she was at the Juilliard Pre-College Division, where she served as Concertmaster. Before that she was a member of The Youth Chamber Orchestra at Temple University Music Prep, where she was a recipient of a Dorothy Richard Starling Violin Scholarship. She studied chamber music at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia where she received the Bravedrman  and Snitzer Scholarships.  Carolyn’s teacher is currently Laurie Smukler and her other teachers have included Masao Kawasaki, of The Juilliard School, Choong-Jin Chang, Principal Violist of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Amy Lee, Associate Concertmaster of The Cleveland Orchestra.

Carolyn has received additional awards and scholarships including The Menges  Award of The Ambler Symphony, The National Foundation for Advancement for the Arts-Youngarts, The Constance Goulandris Scholarship, The Carabo-Cone Scholarship, The Irene Diamond Fellowship, The CV Starr Scholarship, and The Argyll Campbell Rice and Argyll Prior Rice Scholarships.