Lyndon Johnston Taylor
Lyndon Johnston Taylor is soloist and principal second violin with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he first held in 1997. Previous to this appointment, he had taught violin at La Sierra University, served as concertmaster of the Redlands and Riverside symphony orchestras, and played violin in the LAP, before becoming principal of the second violins. From 2007 to 2011, he served as Assistant Concertmaster for the New Zealand Symphony and then rejoined the LAP in his former position upon his return to the U.S.††
Lyndon is the youngest of four children of Morris and Elaine Myers Taylor.† Raised in a well-known musical family, he and his siblings started lessons on piano and a string instrument at an early age. Although active as a performing musician, Elaine made her role as mother the priority in her life. She nurtured her children both spiritually and musically, sparing no effort to be the best parent and teacher possible.
That dedication, with support and assistance from their father, created an atmosphere in the home where the children's musical gifts flourished. The children, who practiced a string instrument and piano daily for an hour each and rehearsed for a third hour as a string quartet, achieved at a remarkable level.
For several years, beginning in 1965, the precocious playing of the children and the excellence of their work as a string quartet stunned audiences and music critics alike. The Palo Alto Times described the response to the Taylor String Quartet, following a performance of the family for the annual conference of the Music Teachers' Association of California in 1971: "When 300 music teachers rise to give a performing group a standing ovation, the players can be sure they have received quite a tribute."
The quartet toured in the U.S., Europe, Poland, and Russia, playing in famous venues, at over fifty colleges and universities, and on national radio and TV in Great Britain, Sweden, and Norway to great acclaim. In 1975, while on tour in Europe with the New England Youth Ensemble, the quartet was invited at the last minute and without prior notice to play for a banquet in Poland being held during a visit by President Gerald Ford with the Polish Premier.† Even though they did not have their music, they and a NEYE harpist performed for two hours from memory during the meal and were each thanked personally at the end of the meal by Ford.†
In the late 1970s Elaine took a three-week tour with her children, traveling as The Taylor String Quartet, from California to Texas, to Mexico, and then to Washington, D.C.† At the University of Monterey, the audience responded to their concert with a prolonged standing ovation, shouts of bravo, and a cascade of flowers on the stage. This would be the last tour the group made with their mother, who died in a car accident in 1978.
Even though he was an unusually gifted and promising violinist, Lyndon enrolled at Atlantic Union College as a pre-med student and graduated in 1982 with a B.S. in chemistry. Midway through medical school, where he was pursuing graduate study in medicine and cell biology with the intent of doing medical research, he got a music teaching position as director of string studies at the University of Redlands which renewed his interest in music. He subsequently completed an M.Mus. in violin performance at California State University, Northridge, in 1985 and a D.M.A. in violin in1990 at the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with legendary teacher Dorothy Delay and was the recipient of the Fritz Kreisler Scholarship.
Taylor had accepted a deferred appointment in the music department at La Sierra University in 1989 and joined the faculty as director of string studies in 1992. On a whim, he had auditioned for an opening in the second violin section of the LAP in 1990 and won. When the principal chair of the second section opened in 1997, he successfully auditioned for it. In that position he played on the "Perkins" Stradivarius violin, one of three owned by the orchestra.
Throughout his career, Taylor has given countless recitals, soloed with numerous orchestras, and been active as a chamber music player on his violin in groups other than the Taylor quartet. He also plays viola and has performed on the instrument as a soloist and in chamber music and at one point was a candidate to be principal violist with the San Francisco Symphony.
He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Coleman Chamber Music Award, The Civic Orchestra of Chicago Soloist Auditions Award, The Joseph Fischoff National Competition Award, the Lipzer International Competition in Italy, and the 2000 Adventist Alumni Achievement Award for the Arts. The last award, which included $2,500 to be given to the Adventist school of the recipientís choosing, was given to La Sierra University,where Taylor has taught. Taylor and his wife, Elizabeth Johnston, then decided to give a like amount to each of the six Adventist schools he had attended from elementary through graduate school.
Sources: Biography at the Los Angeles Philharmonic website; La Sierra Today: Spring 1995, 22; Winter 1992, 20; and Spring/Summer 1997, 22. LSU music department Hole Notes, Winter, 2001, 6; IAMA Notes, Spring 2001, 18; Atlantic Union Gleaner, 11 December 1973, 5; Dorothy Minchin-Com and Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse, Encore!, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1984, 66; personal knowledge. †††††††††††††††