Instructor, The Music Settlement Cleveland

Violinist, Cleveland Orchestra

Cleveland, Ohio


Violinist Isabel Trautwein was born in Huntsville, Alabama and started violin at age five with a cello teacher. A major childhood inspiration was conductor Pamela Gearhart who created a summer camp in Alabama and passed on to her students her great joy for making music. 

After completing undergraduate studies in Luebeck, Germany, Isabel received government grants to study with Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In quick succession, she then joined the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas as a concertmaster, the Houston Symphony under Christoph Eschenbach and the St. Louis Symphony for four years in three different positions, including one year as Resident Musician, a unique experimental position which combined orchestral duties as principal second and first violin section with extensive outreach work. 

Since 2002 she has been a member of the first violin section in The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst. She is also an enthusiastic violin teacher to her young students and serves as a board member for Heights Arts, a regional arts collaborative where since 2006 she has run the chamber music series featuring orchestra members and CIM faculty at concerts throughout the community, performing in diverse places such as libraries, detention centers and mansions. In 2006 she created TACO, The Awesome Children's Orchestra, an orchestra for kids and professional musicians that has performed at Cleveland’s Severance Hall with over 60 players, ranging in age from 5 to 74.

Following her experience as a Sistema Fellow, Isabel founded two El Sistema-inspired programs in Cleveland, El Sistema@Rainey and El Sistema@University Circle.


Photo: Roger Mastroianni