Born in rural East Texas, Dawson White’s musical career has taken him from Walt Disney Hall to Carnegie Hall and across the globe to concert stages of Canada and Austria. He currently performs in the Houston Grand Opera and Ballet orchestras as section violist and teaches at the University of St. Thomas (Houston). Dawson spends his summers at the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival in California and Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy.
A dedicated teaching artist, Dawson has sent students on to top conservatories and universities in the US and abroad including Juilliard, Cleveland Institute, Oberlin, Manhattan School, Royal College of Music (London), Baylor, and MIT. His students have earned viola positions at major music festivals including Aspen, Tanglewood, Heifetz, Bowdoin, Sewanee and Domaine Forget. Mr. White is frequently invited to adjudicate competitions such as MTNA National Competition, Texas State Solo and Ensemble Competition, and Houston Civic Symphony Young Artist Competition.
Other notable experiences include placing as National Finalist at the Music Teachers National Association Solo Competition in Toronto (2007), serving as Assistant Principal in the inaugural YouTube Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas in Carnegie Hall (2009), Principal Violist with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra in Walt Disney Hall (2017), and performing with the Houston Ballet Orchestra as Principal Viola (2019). He is a past member of the Axiom and Kolonneh Quartets and currently performs as guest artist with the Fidelis Quartet, comprised of Houston Symphony musicians.
Entrepreneurial in spirit, Dawson has been involved in the genesis of many artistic pursuits including the formation of the Cypress Symphony, Axiom Quartet, New Art/New Music concert series, Houston Viola Society, and innovative course development at Sam Houston State and the University of St. Thomas all before the age of 30, often serving as (co-)founder, board member, and/or obtaining 501(c)3 non-profit and trademarking status. White has been invited to speak about the art of entrepreneurship at Rice, Baylor and Northwestern Universities, he contributed to the Journal of the American Viola Society and later received a nomination to serve on its Board of Directors.
Dawson earned a masters degree in viola performance from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music where he studied with Ivo-Jan van der Werff. During undergraduate studies at Baylor University with Dr. Kathryn Steely, White received the Dean’s Award and Donald I. Moore Award for Best Musical Performance. Other significant pedagogical influences include Helen Callus, Wayne Brooks, Joan DerHovsepian and Ruth Morrow.
Dawson performs on a modern viola by David Polstein & Christopher White, a 2012 VSA Award winner. He enjoys Puccini operas, electronic dance music, biking, hiking, travel and spending time on his family land.