In her own words: Violinist Vanessa Porter

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about the work you do.

Vanessa Porter: Being a classical musician keeps me busy and entertained. I enjoy the challenge of learning new music and the comfort of playing old music.

NNBW: How did you become a professional musician?

Porter: I started violin lessons when I was 4 and after years of training and performing I decided to follow music as a full-time career when I was 16.

NNBW: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career?

Porter: Never to burn bridges. The classical music world is a very small one the world over.

NNBW: How did you land in Reno?

Porter: When I finished my undergraduate degree I was looking for a change of pace and a change of scenery from what I had experienced in the Midwest. I decided to move either to the East or West coast. The West won when I received a full scholarship, plus a stipend, from University of Nevada, Reno.

NNBW: How difficult is it to make a living as a classical musician in Reno?

Porter: It is not difficult at all if you can play well and are dependable. Reno musicians are incredibly fortunate to have such a wide array of cultural opportunities. For me, playing with the Reno Philharmonic, the Reno Chamber Orchestra, the AVA Ballet, and the Nevada Opera plus weddings, private house concerts and teaching on the side makes my life as a Reno musician quite comfortable and enjoyable.

NNBW: What’s the most unusual thing you’ve done make ends meet as a musician in Reno?

Porter: Seven years ago, when I first moved here from Indiana, I played in the back up band for the 12 Irish Tenors. It was a very different experience but very enjoyable as well.

NNBW: How challenging, and how fun, is it to play at house concerts?

Porter: House concerts are a dream come true for me. They present an opportunity to connect on a very personal and individual basis with the audience. I personally feel that the music I play comes alive more at house concerts than any other performance venue.

NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?

Porter: I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books and to become a multi-media and fine arts programs director even before there was such a thing. I spent a lot of time putting large -scale programs together on paper and imagining what the outcome would look like.

NNBW: What was your first job?

Porter: I started teaching private students when I was 16 and played for a lot of weddings on the side.

NNBW: Tell us about Green Dot Journey.

Porter: Green Dot Journey seeks to inspire the human spirit through music, nature and the arts. It involves several projects including house concerts, art gallery concerts, the composer project and the National Parks video project. The Rand McNally Atlas contains green dots following the scenic roads in each state and region of the USA and Canada. I will be planning my concerts and road trip around the green dots. The journey includes bringing classical music back to its roots in the form of intimate concerts in private homes. It also pushes the envelope by using music as a means to commune with art and nature through the use of multi-media, art gallery exhibits, scenic nature and violin improvisation.

NNBW: How will you finance Green Dot Journey?

Porter: I plan to use many methods to finance the trip including, playing for house concerts, art gallery concerts, charity fund -raisers, a Kickstarter campaign and obtaining grants, and sponsorships.

NNBW: What do you hope to accomplish with Green Dot?

Porter: The inspirational sights and sounds of nature over the centuries of human existence have served to calm nerves, put things into perspective and provide an overall feeling of contentment, gratefulness and appreciation. The Green Dot Journey offers to those following the trip a chance to be inspired and awed by the beautiful scenic gems that our countries have to offer. The journey hopes to encourage and inspire everyone to take their own trips into nature to calm their minds and heal their souls. It offers a close connection between audience and performer and between music, art, and nature.

NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Porter: My mother always encouraged me to think outside the box. Whenever I decided to do something she always had me think about a million different ways to do that same thing. I learned to think creatively and not to be hemmed in by appearances or circumstances.

NNBW: What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? How do you spend your time away from work?

Porter: I love to read, hike, people watch and lay on the grass and watch the clouds roll by. I also spend a lot of time blogging and keeping things updated on the Green Dot Website at

NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change?

Porter: I would have started my projects sooner.

NNBW: What has been your biggest professional accomplishment?

Porter: Probably the very first solo concert I experienced without nerves. Performing has been so much more enjoyable ever since.

NNBW: What can you do — either musically or otherwise — that someone else can’t?

Porter: Improvise on the violin in response to a multi media backdrop or an art exhibit.

NNBW: What popular musician’s work absolutely blows you away?

Porter: Corinne Bailey Rae.

NNBW: If you do any other job in Reno for a day, what would it be?

Porter: Bartending.


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