Born and raised in Detroit, Violist Catherine Compton began violin lessons at elementary school, and was soon asked to play viola in her school quartet. Cathy grew to love the timbre of the viola and the beautiful part it plays in the chamber music literature. She went on to study violin and viola privately with Ara Zerounian, who launched the careers of dozens of successful string players now in major symphonies and on the concert stage.
Compton attended Cass Technical High School for its orchestra and science and arts curriculum and Interlochen Arts Camp for lessons and more orchestra training in the summer. While at camp during the summer of her junior year, she received a scholarship on viola for her senior year at the Interlochen Arts Academy, then in its third year of existence. Graduating in 1965, she never willingly looked back at her little violin again.
In the summer of 1965 she attended the summer music program run by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Meadow Brook. There, she was Principal Viola of the student orchestra and for the conducting class orchestra led by Sixten Ehrling. She also played viola in the concerts arranged by the late DSO bassist, Ray Benner, called “Bach for a Buck”, in which he mixed talented students with professionals.
Compton earned a bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin College in 1969, a teaching certificate at the Detroit Waldorf School TTI, followed by a masters of music from University of Michigan. She joined the DSO in 1973.
Compton frequently plays quartets with a group of area chamber music lovers and sometimes joins them at the Chamber Music Workshop at Interlochen. In the spring of 2002 she became a Friend of the Arts in the Pontchartrain Chapter of the national music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota. She also belongs to the NSDAR and BUC, and she sings in a small choir called MI-DARlings.