Justin - profile

Justin Caulley


When and where was your first concert with the MCO?

Turin in early 2006.  It was really kind of magical, being isolated with all these wonderful musicians, playing Sibelius symphonies with Daniel Harding, the long and somewhat raucous bus rides after the concerts.  It was beautiful.

What is your most memorable moment with the orchestra?

Verklärte Nacht with Pierre Boulez at the Musikgebouw, Amsterdam, in 2007.  I was playing in the second viola group, and we had been struggling mightily with this rather exposed pizzicato solo.  Lo and behold, the hand of Fate reached out to us during the concert and we sort of nailed it.  Every note was absolutely perfectly together and explosively precise, to the great surprise of the conductor.  His eyes got a bit larger, I even thought I might have seen the hint of a smile creep across his face. To this day, it still makes me grin from ear to ear when I think back on it.  

Can you tell us something about your instrument?

My viola was made by Guy Rabut in New York City in 2002.  She can be sweet, but she also has a lot of bite.  

What do you need to feel at home whilst on tour?

I always bring at least one of my skateboards with me on tour.  I am a passionate skater, and there is really nothing better than waking up early on tour in a beautifully exotic location and exploring some spots.  I have also been truly blessed in the past few years to have been with the MCO in some fantastically skate-able locations. 

What makes a “perfect” concert?

I believe the “perfect” concert is when the musicians and the audience are able to open their hearts and form deep connections with one another.  No matter the technical difficulties within a concert, no matter what sort of moods or characters might present themselves during a performance,  I truly believe that when we take a chance as musicians to make ourselves vulnerable in front of a large crowd of people, that is when connections happen. 


Born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1981 to U.S. American parents, Justin Caulley began playing the violin at age 5, and the viola at age 10.  After spending most of his formative years in Manhattan, KS, U.S.A., Justin graduated with honors from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, in 2003.  He moved to Salzburg, Austria in the fall of 2003 to pursue studies with Thomas Riebl at the Uni Mozarteum, eventually settling in Berlin, Germany, while earning a degree at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg under Thomas Selditz.  After three years as a member of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Justin became a principal viola at the Ensemble Resonanz (Hamburg) in 2012, where alongside his performance appearances he also helps curate the concert series Urban String in the resonanzraum St. Pauli, Hamburg.