Arts & Entertainment Industry Forum: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

Internationally-renowned violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg visits our weekly forum for a one-on-one interview with Professor John Snyder and a performance (10/21/2015).

About Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

Considered one of the world's finest violinists, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg joined Loyola University New Orleans as an artist-in-residence in 2015. Through an illustrious career, her passion and technique won over many fans, and Nadja enjoyed mainstream appeal not commonly seen in the classical world. She has appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show, 60 Minutes, Sesame Street, the sitcom Dharma and Greg, and at the White House.

Nadja was born in Rome, Italy, but immigrated with her mother to the United States at the age of eight, where they settled in the New Jersey suburb of Cherry Hill. Nadja's talent blossomed at an early age, and she studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, the Juilliard School of Music, and the Aspen Music Festival and School. In 1981, she became the youngest ever winner in the Walter Naumburg International Violin Competition, and received an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1983. In 1989, she wrote Nadja: On My Way, an autobiography written for children.

In 1994, Salerno-Sonnenberg badly injured a finger while chopping onions for a Christmas dinner. Her fingertip had to be surgically reattached, and took six months to heal - during which Nadja re-fingered pieces for three fingers and continued to practice and perform.

Nadja received an honorary Master of Musical Arts degree from New Mexico State University (the university's first honorary degree), as well as the Avery Fisher Prize for "outstanding achievement and excellence in music." A documentary helmed by Paola di Florio, Speaking in Strings, was produced about her life and experiences, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000.

In 2003, Salerno-Sonnenberg premiered a performance of Sérgio Assad's Triple Concerto, a work for violin, two guitars, and an orchestra in Minneapolis, MN. Called "Originis," she later recorded the concerto with the Assad brothers and the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo.

She also released many recordings on labels including Angel/EMI Classics, Nonesuch, and beginning in 2005, her own label NSS Music. She has also performed internationally with artists including Mandy Patinkin, Joe Jackson, and Mark O'Connor. In 2008, Salerno-Sonnenberg was selected as the music director of the New Century Chamber Orchestra under a three-year contract.

In addition to her work with Loyola, Nadja continues to perform with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Seattle Symphony, as well as festivals such as Wolf Trap.