Violist Heather Bentley has dedicated herself to chamber music, both as a performer and as an educator. In 2014, she co-founded the North Corner Chamber Orchestra (NOCCO), a conductorless orchestra that, in its three seasons, has produced over twenty concerts and commissioned two new important chamber orchestra works by Hanna Benn and Sean Osborn. As a member of Trio Pardalote, she has premiered numerous new works alongside classic chamber repertoire. She co-founded and was Co-Artistic Director of Club Shostakovich, which traversed the fifteen Shostakovich String Quartets one concert at a time. A veteran of chamber orchestras, she is currently Principal Viola of the Northwest Sinfonietta and was, for seven years, Conductor of the Northwest School Chamber Orchestra. Also a violinist, she is Concertmaster of the improvising string orchestra “Scrape”, which features original music by jazz composer Jim Knapp and recently released its first CD "Approaching Vyones", receiving a nomination for Earshot Jazz's Album of the Year 2013.
Her many years of exploration in improvised music, starting as a student of Turtle Island String Quartet violinist David Balakrishnan, led eventually to composing, and in January 2015 her electro-acoustic, semi-improvised opera “The Ballad of Ishtar” premiered in Seattle’s Chapel Performance Space: a collaborative work with eleven other performers, it was conducted by Wayne Horvitz and featured vocalists Beth Fleenor, Okanomodé Soulchilde and Jimmie Herrod. In April 2015 she released her first improvised collaborative album, “Meeting Point” with composer Steve Layton, who processed, layered and manipulated her recorded original music. They are currently at work on a second album “what Venus told me”. She was commissioned by The Northwest Sinfonietta to compose a new orchestral work, “Hot Shop”, that premiered to critical acclaim in April, 2017.
Heather serves as Director of Cornish College of the Arts’ Summer Chamber Music program for teens and is an adjunct music faculty member at Seattle’s Lakeside School.
Heather was a Fellow and Principal Violist at the Tanglewood Festival, and was Associate Principal of the New York String Orchestra with Alexander Schneider. She has appeared as soloist with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, the Northwest Sinfonietta, the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra and the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. Chamber music appearances include the Seattle Symphony Chamber Series, Seattle Chamber Players, the Olympic Music Festival and Second City Chamber Music Series.