CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A graduate of the music program of Boston University with a master's from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Talia Schiff is an accomplished cellist. But she is also the product of a musical heritage rooted in the history of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Her father, Charles Schiff, conducted the former Charleston Symphony Orchestra from 1965 to 1977. His passion for music and drive for perfection led a group of community musicians into an orchestra of professionals. Talia Schiff is carrying on his legacy.
Schiff is a cellist in the all-female chamber music ensemble Elysian Camerata. The Philadelphia-based group will perform April 6 at Christ Church United Methodist as part of the Charleston Chamber Music Society season.
What does she remember most about Charleston? Without hesitation, she replied, "Sunrise. I loved Sunrise."
Schiff was in the third grade when her parents moved here from New York. She said her parents were looking for a safer place to raise a family, and Charleston offered a wholesome, and still culturally rich, alternative.
She attended West Virginia University as a music major until her junior year, when she became serious about pursuing music as a career, and transferred to Boston University.
With her father a cellist and a conductor and her mother an avid piano teacher, Schiff and her sister were immersed in classical music. Schiff began her musical career with the Charleston Youth Symphony under the tutelage of conductor John Lambros, who also was concertmaster of the CSO.
Schiff said she hadn't been back to Charleston until two years ago when she returned for a George Washington High School class reunion.
She and her husband, Mark Mercer, drove the back roads down from Philadelphia.
"I was surprised. It felt like coming home," Schiff said of the drive that took them past Seneca Rocks and Spruce Knob -- places she remembered visiting as a child.
During the 2011 trip, she visited with Lambros, now age 95 and still teaching music lessons. She said Lambros helped her develop her musical skills first in the youth symphony, and then her father directed her when she moved on as a 16-year-old apprentice in the orchestra.