These Symphony-commissioned feature articles offer insights into the music you’ll hear in the concert hall.

Jan 7, 2019

 Meet The SFS Musicians: Associate Concertmaster Nadya Tichman

Nadya Tichman

Associate Concertmaster,
San Francisco Symphony Foundation Chair

Member since: 1980
Hometown: Rockville Centre, NY

What does Associate Concertmaster Nadya Tichman love the most about playing with the San Francisco Symphony?

“There are these times when everybody’s energy seems to line up. You can tell everybody is listening together, and is excited, and focused. We always play well of course, but there are certain times when you feel this thing becoming greater than the sum of the parts; where you all know.”

Nadya comes from a deeply musical family. Her parents were professional musicians. Her older sister Nina is a concert pianist. And her younger sister Nomi, in addition to a long-established career in medicine, leads a successful coaching studio for Broadway and television performers. Nadya is married to John Imholz, an accomplished guitar, banjo, and mandolin player. They play all kinds of music together, from Paganini to Piazzolla and share a love of bluegrass music. Son David (trombone) and daughter Fanya (piano) are continuing the family musical tradition.

Outside her home, Nadya spends one morning a week reading to young children at Saint Vincent’s Day Home in Oakland, a nonprofit, agency serving low-income families. “I’ve been doing this for almost two years, and I love it.” 

Nadya Tichman
SFS Associate Concertmaster Nadya Tichman

If there’s one non-musical focus in Nadya’s life, it’s food. “Cooking is my favorite pastime. I like the challenge of figuring out what to do with the produce in the weekly farm box. When something comes out great, it’s so rewarding.” A recent highlight is the Persian tahcheen barreh, a lamb, rice, and eggplant casserole. “It’s so fantastic, if you like saffron. I’ll also make guacamole and carnitas tacos. Or schnitzel. And a lot of pie, my husband loves pie!”  She brings the leftovers to rehearsal and puts them backstage, “and they’re gone in like thirty minutes!”

Another creative outlet is, of all things, a large mosaic on an outside wall at her home. A hefty vine fell off the wall, exposing ugly cinderblocks. A good friend is an ardent mosaicist; Nadya learned the technique from her. After enthusiastically acquiring tiles, Nadya discovered it would take about an hour per square foot to install them (the wall is about 100 square feet). But she persevered. “My husband helped a lot with the grouting. It took a few months, but it’s a finished work of art. I’ll never do it again, but it’s very cool!”

And so is being Associate Concertmaster with the San Francisco Symphony. “I still love the music after thirty-eight years. So much of it goes right to my heart; that’s the best thing.”

Chef’s Table eat your heart out. Associate Concertmaster Nadya Tichman shares her love of creating beautiful music and beautiful meals.

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