Amy Kniffen joined the viola section of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in May of 1998 and has been an active part of the musical life of Indianapolis ever since. As a chamber musician, she has been a founding member of several quartets, first Quattra and then the Castleton String Quartet, both with ISO colleagues. Active in the recording studio, Amy also enjoyed appearing occasionally in the chamber series of Suzuki and Friends with former ISO concertmaster Hidetaro Suzuki; the Ronen Ensemble with David and Ingrid Bellman, and in the A Piacere series at the Music Room.
An avid educator, Amy offers private lessons in her home studio and has been on faculty at Anderson and DePauw Universities as well as the Masterworks Festival. She is a regular participant in the New Caritas Orchestra in Raleigh, when it convenes for Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts.
Adding CEO to her list of opportunities, Amy incorporated as The Sassy Violist in the spring of 2022. As the Sassy Violist, she offers an in class experience that uses live music and storytelling to harmonize elements of music, history and social issues. Programs are crafted for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade and have been enjoyed by adult audiences as well. More information is available at thesassyviolist.com. As the Sassy Violist, Amy was invited to participate in the 2023 cohort of the On Ramp Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship program that is offered annually by the Indiana Arts Commission, resulting in the award of a grant to develop materials that clarify the Indiana Department of Education objectives that are covered in her programming.
Amy plays on a viola crafted by Hiroshi Iizuka in 1995, based on the viol shape, the family of instruments that existed before the violin was developed. With sloping shoulders and a wider body, it offers depth of sound and clarity of articulation. The bow that Amy uses was crafted to match the sound of her viola by Benoit Rolland, who was bestowed the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and a MacArthur Fellow.
Amy also plays a viola formerly owned by the father of Victoria Kintner, ISO violinist. Made by British luthier Aubrey Tarr, it was built during WWII and was played by Victoria’s father, an amateur violist, for fifty years before finding its way into the ISO family of instruments.