Violin & Viola
GRAMMY®-nominated violinist and violist Aaron Westman was a “metal-head” growing up in Santa Rosa. He now plays the electric guitar of the 17th-century. Described as "expressive and virtuosic" (—San Francisco Classical Voice) and a “brilliant virtuoso violinist” (—Early Music America Magazine), he has performed since 2005 as a chamber, principal player, or soloist with all of the major gut string ensembles in California, and toured extensively throughout the world. As a principal or chamber player, Aaron works with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (since 2006), American Bach Soloists, Ars Minerva, Bach Collegium San Diego, California Bach Society, El Mundo, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Harmonia Stellarum Houston, Long Beach Opera, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Musica Angelica, and Opera Neo, and he has toured extensively with Orchester Wiener Akademie, including for four seasons with the actor John Malkovich. He also plays in both the Oregon and Carmel Bach Festival Orchestras, and has worked with Vox Luminis (Belgium) choir, and the Mark Morris and Martha Graham Dance Companies.
Aaron co-directs the chamber ensemble AGAVE, whose 2021 album American Originals was a nominee for the 64th Annual GRAMMY® Awards and WCLV (Cleveland Classical Radio) chose it as their 2022 Album of the Year. AGAVE has just released a new album of music by thirteen different women composers, from Barbara Strozzi to Margaret Bonds, called AGAVE: In Her Hands. The group regularly performs and records with star singers including soprano Michele Kennedy and countertenor Reginald Mobley, with whom they have three albums. Gramophone Magazine calls American Originals "brilliant and knowing,” BBC Music Magazine says it’s “wonderfully cheeky,” The Whole Note lauds AGAVE’s “vivid colors and stylish phrasing,” and EMAg notes that it features "a stunning playlist of neglected works by composers of color.” The New York Times featured a track from American Originals in an article about Florence Price, and AGAVE: In Her Hands was just featured in Kerry Benefield’s column in the Press Democrat. AGAVE is currently involved in a year-long performing and teaching residency in Cedarville, California in the high desert, a project funded by the California Arts Council.
Aaron is also Associate Director of the Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, and was the violist in the Sylvestris Quartet, which was a finalist for the American Prize, and in residence at Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.
Aaron holds degrees from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Wesleyan University. His principal teachers were Stanley Ritchie, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Geraldine Walther, and Alan de Veritch. Aaron has been on the performance faculty at Mills College (now part of Northeastern University), and in 2021, he joined the faculty of Sonoma State University. He directs the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, teaches in Italy each summer at the Music Adventure program, and has guest taught at Appalachian State, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and for three years at CalArts. In his spare time, he is an audio engineer and producer. Aaron and his wife, violinist Anna Washburn, have a toddler named Olive.