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L.A. Philharmonic's violist brings mellow sound to S.L.
Provo native in Assembly Hall on Wednesday

Grabbing at opportunities as they come along and being the best at what you do are Leticia Oaks Strong's credos. And that's how she ended up playing viola with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In an interview with the Deseret News, she says that, "I don't believe in going after something only halfway. I went after the position (with the Philharmonic) and got it."And that happened in 1994, right after she graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California.

The Provo native, who at the moment is back in her hometown staying with her in-laws, will give a recital on Wednesday, June 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.

Accompanied by pianist Timothy Durkovic, Strong will present a program combining original works for viola along with transcriptions.

"I have an interesting program. I'm doing a piece that was written for me by Lansing McLoskey called 'Wild Bells.' It was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment at BYU. I got the music in April, and I premiered it earlier this month at the International Viola Congress in Guelph, Ontario (Canada). So when I play it next Wednesday, it'll be the U.S. premiere.

"I'm also doing Robert Cundick's viola sonata. It's a very tonal piece, very lovely and fun to play. He's going to be in the audience, too.

"Then I'm doing some transcriptions. I'm doing Bach's 'Sheep May Safely Graze,' Debussy's 'The Girl with the Flaxen Hair,' and Ravel's 'Piece in the Form of a Habanera.'

"What would we (violists) do without transcriptions!"

Strong, who is the daughter of Elder Merle Oaks of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Seventy, began playing violin with the Suzuki method when she was 3 or 4 years old.

"I played violin until I was 12, when my teacher suggested that I switch over to viola. And it was time that I did that. I was getting bored with the violin and with competing in violin competitions.

"I love the mellow sound of the viola. It's beautiful. And there are a lot of great works written for viola."

Strong comes from a musical family. "We're eight siblings," she explains, "and all of us played instruments. But only an older brother, who is a tenor and studying at the University of Utah, and a younger brother, who is studying cello at BYU, are keeping it up."

Strong is looking forward to her upcoming recital. "I usually do one recital in June, but this year I got to do two. I love doing them. I just need someone to organize them for me, and I'd be there."

June is an off month for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. There aren't any concerts until the Hollywood Bowl season begins in July. "And I don't have to be back in Los Angeles until July 6," Strong admits. "I got the first week (of the summer season) off so that I can spend the Fourth of July weekend with my family in Provo. It's been so many years since I had the chance to spend the holiday with my family."