Gloria Justen

When my elder daughter, Gloria, was a senior in high school she had the distinct honor of being named Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She was one of five in the nation to receive this award in music and was the only violinist. She was given a free trip to Washington, D.C. to receive her monetary and other awards. Also it was her privilege to perform a violin solo at the Kennedy Center. I went along to be her accompanist at the concert and to sightsee in this beautiful and historic city.

The students were required to stay together in a different location from the parents. We parents stayed in a hotel across the street from the infamous Watergate Hotel. I was advised to wear comfortable walking shoes, which was good advice. I walked around many awe-inspiring places of interest. The Library of Congress was an absolutely magnificent structure. Touring the arboretum and the White House were also memorable experiences.

The students received their medals on the lawn of the White House. President Ronald Reagan delivered a brief speech and then returned to his duties. The concert at the Kennedy Center was varied and impressive. Gloria wore a peacock blue silk brocade formal dress, which had fabric petals around the neckline. It was borrowed from her beloved teacher in Houston, Fredell Lack. Miss Lack had concertized around the world and had lovely gowns worn in the past.

The fabric in this dress was somewhat aged and hence a little fragile. When we were backstage waiting to go out to perform, there was a rip in the fabric at the back of the dress. Fortunately, I had a needle and thread and quickly sewed up the tear. The performance of the St. Saens, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso went without a hitch or a rip. Just imagine, what if the rip had happened in the front of the dress during the performance? It might have been an entirely different kind of show.

Gloria used the prize money from this and other competitions to buy a violin. I went with her to the home of the violin maker, Sergio Peresson, in rural Pennsylvania. He and his wife were very gracious. He let Gloria borrow a violin until she decided whether or not to buy it. She did and it has served her well. Gloria graduated from the prestigious Curtiss Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Penn. She has traveled all over the world with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony and served for some years as the Concert Mistress of the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra.

She has produced a CD of her original compositions.The rich variety of sounds and colors played on a borrowed Stradivarius violin are impressive. Her CD is available at by printing “Gloria Justen.” She is currently a professional violinist, composer and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area

Many kudos to Gloria from her proud mother.

Rosalie Justen is a member of the Jottings Club of the Adult Community Center.

You can learn more about Gloria Justen on her website,

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