Principal Viola, Orchestra Contractor/Personnel Manager

Jim Kelly


Jim currently serves as Principal Viola and Personnel Manager of The American Pops Orchestra.

Beyond APO

Violist Jim Kelly enjoys an active career as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician. Jim has served as Principal Viola for the Northeast US Tours of “Il Volo and Josh Groban” In the metro Washington, DC area, Jim also serves as Principal Viola and Personnel Manager of the Maryland Lyric Opera. In addition to section viola at Concert Artists Of Baltimore, National Gallery Orchestra, and National Philharmonic. He has performed at Wolf Trap Center for The Performing Arts, The Kennedy Center, National Philharmonic at Strathmore, Annapolis Symphony, and Maryland Symphony.

Jim is also known throughout the world as a Fine Instrument Consultant and is currently Business Partner/Co-Owner at The Potter Violin Company in Bethesda, MD.  In addition to his responsibilities there, Jim was asked to lead the National Philharmonic as President/CEO in 2019. Jim has a Double degree in Violin and Viola Performance from The Hartt School under Mitchell Stern (violin), Kathy Murdock (viola), and Emerson String Quartet (Chamber Music Studies). He has done Additional Studies in Viola Performance with Tsuna Sakamoto of The National Symphony Orchestra. Jim also received an Artist’s Diploma in Viola and Diploma in Linguistics and Arts from Accademia Chigiana and the University of Siena in Siena Italy.


  • BM in Violin Viola Performance, The Hartt School
  • Artist Diploma, The Hartt School
  • Artist Diploma and Diploma in Linguistics, University of Siena Italy

Favorite APO Moment

Comparing shoes with Michelle Williams (I clearly won)

Favorite Pop Music Song

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (The Version from APO's Season 1)