Julia Gish Salerno

1982 -

Julia Gish-Salerno, violinist and professor of violin and viola at Eastern Washington University, has garnered a number prizes for her playing and in her brief career has enjoyed remarkable success as a soloist with and concertmaster of many orchestras.

Julia was born in Bellevue, Washington, and spent most of her childhood in Washington state, the older of two children of Benjamin Keith and Connie Camp Gish. She started her musical training at age two, tutored by her father, and subsequently took violin lessons from Rhonda Burnham, Kathleen Spring, Claire Hodgkins, and Margaret Pressley of Seattle. Teachers at the university level have included Stephen Shipps, Lyndon Johnston-Taylor, and Martin Chalifour.

At age eighteen, Julia won first prize and the festival medal in the 2000 Seattle Young Artists Music Festival. A year later she won the 2001 string division of the Northwest Music Teachers National Association competition, thereby becoming one of seven finalists nationally. In 2004 she was the Young Artist Winner in the Spokane Allied Arts Festival, and in 2006 she was a finalist for the principal chair position in the second violin section of the Seattle Symphony.

Julia was awarded full tuition scholarships for music study at the University of Michigan and University of Southern California, where she received her B.M. and M.M., respectively, in violin performance summa cum laude. Gish, who served as concertmaster with several orchestras in the Walla Walla Valley while still a student at Walla Walla Valley Academy, held that position with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra from her sophomore year until she graduated in 2005.

She was serving in that position when the UM orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, made the Grammy Award winning recording of William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. She was a violin soloist in that recording.

Gish has soloed with many orchestras since her debut as a soloist in 1993 at age eleven with the Walla Walla College, now University, orchestra. She has since been featured as a soloist with the Andrews University Ochestra in 2001, the Northwest Philharmonia in 2001, the Spokane Symphony in 2004 and, on three occasions, the Walla Walla Symphony, in 1999, 2002, and 2006. In 2005, she also soloed with the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra in Prague and presented a recital for their International Diplomat Series. Her repertoire includes concertos by Bach, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky.

Gish spent many summers participating in Suzuki music festivals throughout the nation. In the summer of 1999, she was a scholarship student at Encore School for Strings and in 2000 had scholarships to attend both the Indiana University String Academy and Meadowmount Summer School of Music. She attended Meadowmount for four summers, each year as a full scholarship recipient.

She completed a DMA in violin performance in 2010 at USC. During her study in Los Angeles, she made a small appearance in the 2009 movie The Soloist and played in the 2009 Academy Awards Governor's Ball Orchestra, a PBS documentary honoring Ella Fitzgerald, and performances with musicians like Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole. She also participated in chamber music recitals with principal players from the LA Philharmonic and taught privately and for the South Pasadena Strings Program.

Gish married Kenneth Salerno III (Tres) in 2005. They had twins, a boy and a girl, in August 2011.


Sources: Information from Benjamin Gish; Opus, Walla Walla College music department newsletter, all summer issues, 1997, 9; 1998, 3, 15; 199, 11; 2000, 11, 21; Program notes for recital at Walla Walla College, now University, in 2001; Biography at EWU University, information provided by her father, Benjamin Gish, May 2012; Personal Knowledge.