Chicago-based violist Nora Williams brings “…excitement and passion to every work she performs…” and loves her audiences as much as they love her. A varied performer with a penchant for chamber music, Nora delights in exploring old and new gems from the chamber repertoire and in connecting her audiences with the depth, vitality and intimacy that small ensembles provide.
During the pandemic, Nora presented a trio of chamber concerts in eclectic fresh-air venues for small audiences starved for live music. This time has also been an exploratory one, learning new technical platforms for rehearsing and performing virtually and an interest in producing her first commercially distributed recording. Nora has found that the Sturm und Drang of the time have unleashed creativity and new collaborations in equal measure and predicts classical music will be an integral and necessary component of our global collective healing process.
In addition to holding the principal viola chair in Highland Park Strings, Nora has made many appearances with the Northwest Indiana Symphony, New Philharmonic, and Music Theater Works. She spent seven seasons as a member of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra and loves to freelance with small opera companies, churches and society bands. Nora is the Artistic Director of the Ossia Musical Forum, located in the historic Fine Arts Building in Chicago, where her studio focuses on teen and adult students. Multiple summers since 2012 find her in northern Italy at the Interharmony Festival where she is a performer and faculty member.
Nora holds a bachelors degree in music from Stanford University; she studied with Bernard Zaslav. Her other teachers include Alan de Veritch (Indiana University), Burton Kaplan and Serge Collot. Many summer festivals have contributed greatly to Nora’s development and love of chamber music including, Kneisal Hall, Magic Mountain, Idyllwild, Britt, and the Paillard Academie de Musique de Chambre.
Nora plays a viola made by Benoist Fleury in 1749 and her favorite bow is a A. Lamy, also from France.
Nora is native to the San Francisco Bay Area in California. She is athletic, loves to ride her bicycle nearly everywhere, read good books, grow and cook organic food and share these activities with her husband, Shawn Quaid, a Chicago area chef.