Violin, Viola


Holly received her BM from the Mannes College of Music before going on to earn her MM from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She is currently pursuing her DMA at the Peabody Institute of Music at Johns Hopkins University, where she is also a Dean’s Doctoral Fellow.

In 2022, Holly received the Peabody Institute of Music’s Presser Award, which “is designed to especially encourage and support the advanced education and careers of truly exceptional graduate music students who have the potential to make a notable contribution to the field of music.” In 2023, she was awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to study tango music performance practice and pedagogy in Buenos Aires, Argentina for nine months. During her grant, she was invited to give a solo violin performance at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires. 

Her notable professors include Vadim Gluzman, Giora Schmidt, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Ann Setzer, Daniel Phillips, Garrett Fischbach, and Stephen Tieszen.

As a Performer

Violinist Holly Nelson has appeared in concert as a soloist, chamber player, and orchestral musician throughout the United States. In 2024, she became the Concertmaster of the Pan-American Symphony Orchestra, a DC-based ensemble dedicated to performing Latin American orchestral repertoire. She first appeared with them as soloist in a program of tango works for violin and orchestra at the Argentinian Embassy of the United States and later made her Kennedy Center debut as Concertmaster of the ensemble in April of 2024. Other concerto engagements in 2024 include performing Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas for Violin and Orchestra by Astor Piazzolla (arr. L. Desyatnikov) with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, Florence Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Durham Symphony Orchestra in NC, and giving the Maryland premiere of John Williams’ violin concerto Treesong with the John Williams Project Orchestra at the Peabody Institute’s Friedberg Hall in Baltimore, MD. 

Holly has held residencies at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Jazz at Lincoln Center as a violin fellow with The Orchestra Now, and was formerly a member of the Chamber Orchestra of New York and the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra (NY). She was a featured artist at the opening gala of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Biennial in 2010 in New York City and has also appeared in recital at New York University, the Fox Performing Arts Theater in El Paso, TX, National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY, and at the Atlantic Music Festival. Other festival appearances include Britten Pears in England, Banff and Domaine Forget in Canada, and The Lucerne Festival and Tibor Varga Academy in Switzerland. Additionally, she has had the opportunity to perform in France, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, China, and Taiwan. 

In addition to performing mainstream classical music, Holly has a special interest in studying and performing Argentine tango music. She has studied and performed tango music with four Latin Grammy winners: Emilio Solla (piano), Pablo Estigarribia (piano) Pedro Giraudo (bass) and Hector del Curto (bandoneón). She has also studied with prominent Argentine tango violinists Guillermo Rubino and Pablo Agri and pianist Ariel Pirotti, winner of Argentina’s most prestigious award for tango composition, the Premio Mercedes Sosa. Additionally, she was invited by Mr. Pirotti to perform with his professional tango quartet in Buenos Aires. During her Fulbright Research Grant in Buenos Aires, Holly had the opportunity to perform with tango ensembles at some of the most renowned spaces in Argentina, including the Centro Cultural Kirchner, El Salón Dorado de la Casa de Cultura, La Universidad Nacional de las Artes and Salón Marabú. 

Holly is also interested in historical performance practice on period instruments and has participated in numerous workshops and master classes devoted to early music. These include being invited to perform in a public master class for former Tafelmusik concertmaster Elisa Citterio in Toronto, Canada, participating in the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute, The American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco, and the Academy of Fortepiano Performance in Hunter, NY. She has performed professionally with The Sebastians, The Clarion Ensemble, and Project Amadeus on period instruments and has been a guest instructor of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s Baroque Ensemble. She has studied with and been coached by Juilliard Historical Performance faculty members including Cynthia Roberts, Robert Mealy, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Phoebe Carrai, and Audrey Axinn.

As a Teacher

Holly has taught at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and has been a visiting artist-lecturer at Fordham University, the University of Texas El Paso, and Duke University. She has presented workshops on tango music at The Peabody Institute’s Preparatory Division, The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Duke University and Duke University’s preparatory division. Previously, she taught Suzuki and traditional violin at The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Precollege Division Starling Preparatory String Project at the invitation of Professor Kurt Sassmannshaus, at the United Nations International School in New York City, The Greenwich Suzuki Academy (CT), and The Brooklyn Conservatory (NY.) She has also taught at Casita Maria in The Bronx, (NY) and the Bridges Program in Baltimore Public Schools (MD). She frequently teaches and performs at summer music festivals including the Lamar Stringfield Music Camp in North Carolina and the Vilacello String and Piano Festival in Pennsylvania.

At Levine

Holly joined Levine’s faculty in 2024 teaching both Suzuki and traditional methods.

It is a pleasure to be part of a truly exceptional team of educators and artists unified in our goal of imparting the gift of music to our students.

Holly Nelson

Teaching Philosophy

I truly believe that “every child (or adult!) can.” With consistent, disciplined effort, creativity and expert instruction, anybody who dreams of learning to make music with an instrument will be able to. I make sure the path to musical excellence is paved with lots of fun, confidence-building steps along the way. 

I cultivate solid violinistic technique in my students through a graduated series of etudes, scales and repertoire customized to their needs. I introduce them to effective practicing and memorization concepts and emphasize the development of ergonomic playing posture, left hand position and bow hold. I develop their sight-reading skills with rhythm and pitch drills, address ways to prevent or manage performance anxiety, and above all, I emphasize musicality and the production of a beautiful tone in every aspect of my teaching. I have successfully prepared many students for concerto competitions, regional orchestra auditions and conservatory entrance auditions. Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing my students meet and exceed their personal goals.

More About Holly

In addition to performing and teaching, Holly enjoys skiing, studying languages, traveling, hiking, learning to dance Argentine tango, and sampling spicy food from around the world. Learn more about Holly on her website.