Meet the Musicians

Nicholas Carper

Principal Viola
Coughlin Chair

Nicholas Carper


Nick Carper has been praised by critics, audiences, and fellow musicians for his dynamic energy and warmth of tone. Since joining the Spokane Symphony Orchestra in 2001, he has devoted himself to performing and teaching in the region and abroad. 

Born in Spokane, Nick holds degrees from Columbus State and Butler Universities, where he studied with violists Manuel Diaz and Csaba Erdélyi. 

Carper has performed widely throughout the U.S. in various capacities, as principal, chamber musician, and soloist. As principal and section player he has performed with the Eugene, Columbus, Macon, La Grange, and Muncie Symphony Orchestras and the Marion Philharmonic. He has been Principal Violist of the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and has regularly participated in performances of the Spokane Opera and the Northwest Bach Festival. Recently he was guest Principal Violist of the 2010 American Prize-winning Lancaster Festival Orchestra in Ohio. 

Carper has always been a passionate advocate of chamber music. With the Leichtenstein Quartet he won an internship to the Garth-Newell Chamber Music Festival in Virginia. From 2002-2004, he joined the Spokane String Quartet, artists-in-residence at Eastern Washington University. Currently he can be heard with the Inland Northwest Chamber Music Collective and on the Spokane Symphony's Chamber Soiree series.

Carper has been a frequent guest soloist with his colleagues of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. He first appeared with bassist Darryl Miyasato in Dittersdorf's Sinfonia Concertante. In 2003, he performed the role of Sancho Panza, with cellist Gustav Ravinius as the quirky "knight" in Strauss's colorful tone poem Don Quixote. Nick reprised this role at the end of the 2011-2012 season with cellist Joshua Roman. More recently he performed Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 with Assistant Principal Violist Jeannette Wee-Yang. At the Sandpoint Festival in Idaho he was heard with Associate Concertmaster Jason Bell in the first movement of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante. In the 2010-2011 season, he was featured with concertmaster Matuesz Wolski during the Classics series playing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante.

As a teacher, Nick was on the faculty of Whitworth University from 2002-2003. He also taught private lessons in local public schools and coached sectionals there as part of the symphony's Youth Music Educators Program. Since 2002, he has been on the faculty of Gonzaga University, teaching viola and violin. He also teaches privately at home and at St. Dominic's School in Post Falls, Idaho. Nick enjoys being a frequent coach of Spokane's youth orchestras. His private students have gone on to win competitions, and begin their own careers in music.

Carper can be heard in solos as principal violist on two recent compact disc recordings, one with his colleagues in the Spokane Symphony Orchestra and baritone Thomas Hampson: Letters from Lincoln, and the other with The Lancaster Festival Orchestra and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman: Music of William Bolcom and Clare Fischer / Ragomania. More recently he was part of the orchestra for the Paradox cd MiX-5, featuring bassoonist Lynn Feller-Marshall and cellist John Marshall.

In addition to his concert schedule, Carper has been a guest on KPBX, Spokane Public Radio. Nick lives in Spokane with his wife, violinist Rachel Dorfman, their beautiful daughters and their two cats.



About Nick Carper:

What is your teaching presence in Spokane? 

I love teaching at Gonzaga University, at home and at St. Dominic's School for Girls in Post Falls, Idaho. I also enjoy coaching chamber music ensembles and the Spokane Youth Orchestras.


What is your involvement in the greater Spokane musical community? 

I can be found performing just about anywhere — your local church at your friend's wedding, on the radio in your home or on your way to work, or supporting local university orchestras. When not performing, I try to make it out to hear the Hot Club of Spokane and to my students' local performances.


Where is your hometown? 

As the son of a retired Air Force serviceman, this one is hard to answer. My dad was stationed at Fairchild when I was born here in Spokane, but we spent most of my youth in Utica, Michigan, near Selfridge A.F.B., and in Miami, Florida, near Homestead A.F.B.


When did you join the Spokane Symphony? 

I moved here in 2001. The Tuesday of my first week of work here was the infamous 9-11.  


Have you soloed with the Spokane Symphony? 

As Principal Violist I have had many great opportunities to bask in the beautiful spotlight that my wonderful colleagues shine on all our soloists. Most recently I enjoyed musical repartee with my friend and concertmaster Mateusz Wolski through the miraculous lines of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante.


What are your most memorable moments with the Spokane Symphony? 

Aside from the musical thrills, there have been other memorable moments, such as the day we were rehearsing and the shockwave of an earthquake was clearly visible traveling from the rear of the hall towards and through the stage. Of course there have been many memorable performances and artists, from Ray Charles and Bela Fleck to Thomas Hampson and Mahler 6!

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