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The Mind Over Finger Podcast

Sep 28, 2018

Concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera and new music champion, Holly Mulcahy redefines the profile of the 21st century musician.  Through her purposeful approach of music-making, she is able to genuinely connect and bring people together, and have powerful and positive impact in the music world and the community at large. 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How going with the flow and being adaptable shaped her career
  • How her parents helped her establish a strong base that has stayed with her throughout the years
  • How she defined and found her own success and what made her happy
  • How being honest with oneself is key
  • How letting go of a full-time job and challenging the traditional route lead her to a fulfilling life
  • How she reaches out and engages with her audience in a meaningful way
  • How understanding our audience and getting them curious can help us “find a way in” and help us create authentic connections with concert goers
  • How a concert in a prison turned into a powerful project that positively affects prisoners’ lives
  • How she prepares and practices for an orchestra season as a concertmaster
  • How being unprepared takes away the joy from the job
  • How studying a score is important when preparing for a concert
  • How spreading the work over several days is key in helping the brain absorbing the material and is important to solidify the preparation
  • How she learns music by contemporary composers
  • How she is mindful in her practice
  • How adaptability is an important skill in a music career
  • How keeping a notebook nearby helps her stay focus during a practice session



Holly Mulcahy:

Holly’s blog, Neo Classical:

Chattanooga Symphony & Opera:

Drew McManus: “There is a difference in creating a musical market and a musical community” 

Arts Capacity:

Violin Concerto in Five Scenes “The Rose of Sonora” by George S. Clinton: “Inspired by true stories about the lives of legendary women in the Old West, The Rose of Sonora is a compelling and dramatic musical narrative that takes the listener on an epic western adventure of love, loss, and revenge.”

Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses "No, But" Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration--Lessons from The Second City by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton.  Executives from The Second City—the world’s premier comedy theater and school of improvisation—reveal improvisational techniques that can help any organization develop innovators, encourage adaptable leaders, and build transformational businesses.



After hearing Scheherazade at an early age, Holly Mulcahy fell in love with the violin and knew it would be her future. Since then, she has won multiple positions in symphonic orchestras from Richmond to Phoenix and is currently serving as concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra.

Holly began developing her leadership skills at the renowned Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University with former Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Herbert Greenberg. In recent seasons she has enjoyed serving as traveling concertmaster for Emmy Award winner George Daugherty’s Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, and as guest concertmaster for the Columbus Symphony (OH), Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and a one-year appointment as interim concertmaster for Orchestra Iowa.

As an in-demand performer, Holly balances her orchestral duties with numerous concerto performances around the country. Passionate about performing living American composers’ works, Holly has been featured as soloist for concertos by Jennifer Higdon, Jim Stephenson, Philip Glass, and now a concerto being written for her by Hollywood film composer, George S. Clinton. This new concerto, The Rose of Sonora: a violin concerto in five scenes, is inspired by true stories about the lives of legendary women in the Old West and will take the listener on an epic western adventure of love and revenge. The world premiere performance will be in April 2019.

Believing in music as a healing and coping source, Holly founded Arts Capacity, a charitable 501(c)3 which focuses on bringing live chamber music, art, artists, and composers to prisons. Arts Capacity addresses many emotional and character-building issues people face as they prepare for release into society.

In addition to an active performing career, Holly is the author of Neo Classical, a monthly column on the future of classical music. On days off, Holly maintains a reputation for planning and hosting exquisite gourmet parties in her Chicago home.

Holly performs on a 1917 Giovanni Cavani violin, previously owned by the late renowned soloist Eugene Fodor, and a bespoke bow made by award winning master bow maker, Douglas Raguse.


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Visit for information about past and future podcasts, and for more resources on mindful practice.



Most sincere thank you to composer Jim Stephenson who graciously provided the show’s musical theme!  Concerto #1 for Trumpet and Chamber Orchestra – Movement 2: Allegro con Brio, performed by Jeffrey Work, trumpet, and the Lake Forest Symphony, conducted by Jim Stephenson.

Also, a huge thank you to my producer, Bella Kelly!




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