Susan Synnestvedt

Susan Synnestvedt joined the first violin section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1986. Born in New York City, she grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan; her father plays jazz trombone and her mother is a classical pianist.

When Susan was 4 years old, she began violin studies at the Detroit Community Music School. At 12, she won an appearance with the Detroit Symphony as first prize in a local violin competition. She made her solo debut performing the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. That same year, she began studying with David Cerone at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She flew or drove twice a month from Detroit to Cleveland until her graduation from high school. Susan performed several more times as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony, as well as other orchestras in Michigan and Canada.

In 1981, Susan entered the Curtis Institute of Music, where she continued studies with Cerone and had chamber music coachings with Felix Galimir, Karen Tuttle and Mischa Schneider. During her summer breaks, Susan participated in the Meadowmount School for Strings and the Taos Chamber Music Festivall. She was concertmaster of the Curtis Orchestra under Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache, and Max Rudolf in the 1983/84 season. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1985.

A passionate chamber musician, Susan has participated in the prestigious Marlboro Chamber Music Festival, and on the CSO Chamber Music series. She has performed frequently at the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and during Northwestern University’s Winter Chamber Music Festival. Susan and her mother, Jane Synnestvedt, perform as a violin-piano duo.

Susan and her husband, John V. Muntean, live in Riverside with their West Highland White terrier, Nessie. They have two children, Maddie and Alex, who are both attending out-of-state colleges. John is a research scientist and sculptor. His website, which showcases his Magic Angle Sculpture, is


July 2015


Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.