Vira Slywotzky ’00

November 9, 2019 is the 11th annual performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, as part of the BSO’s Family Concert Series in collaboration with BYSO providing engaging, age-appropriate, educational orchestral concert experiences especially for children ages 3-8 and their families. This year, Vira Slywotzky, ’00, Violin, will be playing the role of the Narrator.

Although Vira has a great career as an opera singer rather than an instrumentalist, she credits much of her success to her 6 years as a BYSO violinist. “In an orchestral setting, there’s a lot of give and take. The whole group is working together towards something great – everyone plays his or her part, almost like a ball being tossed around, which is kept aloft by working together as a team. You all work to make something great together, and this attitude is what I brought to my career as a performer.”

“When I started, I didn’t know any arias – but I did know symphonies and quartets!”

The Opera program started at BYSO after Vira had already graduated, but she is happy to see this implemented at BYSO. “My first exposure to live singing was actually through (G)BYSO. We did the Verdi Requiem, and a suite of highlights from Porgy and Bess with two singers, during my time in the orchestras. Sitting up front in the violin section, I got to be 4 feet away from the singers. It was hugely influential for me, and really exciting to see this superhuman thing that people can do, up close. Part of the unique opportunity of experiencing opera from the orchestra rather than from the audience involves being in rehearsal. In rehearsal, you get to see the whole process from start to finish, and you get to see singers working in a different way.”

In May 2018, Vira started her own concert series called Vira & Friends, with the aim of bringing people together to enjoy live performances of Opera and theater pieces in a concert setting. “Vira & Friends is essentially a classical music variety show. I have enjoyed the process thus far – I appreciate the freedom and the creative control I have. It’s great for the singers to have another outlet, and we’ve had really positive audience responses. So far, at every performance we’ve done, we’ve had someone who has never heard an un-amplified singing voice!”

“It’s been a successful way to accomplish a wide variety of goals, and I’m looking forward to the continued journey.”

Vira looks forward to being back on stage with BYSO after almost 20 years – in particular, with her brother, Adrian. “My musical journey started by following in his footsteps – he started playing violin when he was 5 years old, and when I turned 5 I also started playing violin. We have many great memories of our time together in (G)BYSO – camp, tour, concerts, and rehearsals. Although we’ve worked together since graduating, this will be the first time doing so back in the context of (G)BYSO and I am looking forward to it!”

“In my adult life, I have run into (G)BYSO alumni and our lives have become intertwined in new ways. We have a shared trove of memories and experiences to look back on together. It’s wonderful to see how far we’ve come not just as people but as performers and artists – (G)BYSO lives on!”

Asked if she had any advice for current students, Vira says: “Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Some of you will go on to conservatory, others to college, and you will have lots of choices to make. The more people you talk to, and the more advice you store up to choose from, the better time you will have figuring out what you want to do. Please feel free to use me as a resource!”

To find out more about Vira, you can check out her website at, and come see her perform with BYSO on Saturday, November 9, 2019.

Are you, or someone you know, a BYSO alum with a cool or interesting story or life update to share? Contact Jessica Chen, Development & Alumni Relations Associate!