Photo by Catharina Meints
  • Associate Professor of Viola da Gamba and Cello


  • BM, Performer's Certificate, Eastman School of Music, 1996
  • Cello study with Ronald Leonard
  • Viola da gamba study with August Wenzinger, Basel, Switzerland, 1968-71 


During her distinguished career as a performer, Catharina Meints has played and recorded on five instruments, including bass and treble viols, modern and baroque cello, and pardessus de viole. After completing a cello performance degree at the Eastman School of Music, she became assistant principal with the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, she met her future husband and collaborator, oboist and viol enthusiast James Caldwell. It was the beginning of a 40-year partnership during which Meints and Caldwell became leaders in a revival of the viol. They spent their first summers in Europe studying the instrument together with August Wenzinger, the Swiss virtuoso and viola da gamba pioneer.

In 1971, they moved to northern Ohio, where Caldwell was appointed professor of oboe at Oberlin Conservatory of Music; Meints joined the Cleveland Orchestra. That year, they also established the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute to build a new generation of players. That program still thrives to this day.

Meints’ career on early instruments has included playing bass viol in the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble and with the Cleveland Baroque Soloists. As their collection of antique viols grew, Caldwell and Meints formed and recorded with the Oberlin Consort of Viols, in which Meints plays treble viol exclusively.

Meints retired from a 35-year career with the Cleveland Orchestra in 2006. She continues teaching as associate professor of viola da gamba, baroque cello, and cello at Oberlin Conservatory. She plays frequently with Apollo’s Fire, as well as in solo and chamber music concerts.

In 2012, she authored a book, The Caldwell Collection of Viols: A Life Together in the Pursuit of Beauty, a catalog and memoir of the large and important collection of antique viols that she and husband James Caldwell collected together.


She Wrote the Book on BPI

December 20, 2018
Catharina Meints helped launch the Baroque Performance Institute. Now she’s chronicled its formative years.