Upon seeing his older brother’s violin for the first time, Stephen J. Buckles knew what he wanted to do with his life, play the violin. Five years later, at age 10, he would get a chance to start in his public school’s beginning orchestra program in Abilene, TX, under Paul Kelly. During High School, Mr. Buckles studied with Walter Olivares and performed in both the Hardin-Simmons University Symphony Orchestra as well as the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra.
At his parent’s insistence though, Mr. Buckles left music and pursued a Pre-Pharmacy degree at The University of Texas. After years of putting himself through school, Mr. Buckles returned to his lifelong love of music. By this time, however, he had lost most of his skills on the violin. Through the help of Donald Wright, Mr. Buckles successfully auditioned for The University of Texas School of Music.
Mr. Buckles began his UT studies on the violin with Max Rabinovitz. After a year into study, Mr. Rabinovitz encouraged Mr. Buckles to switch to the viola, feeling it was a better fit. Mr. Buckles took his advice and after another semester of study with Mr. Rabinovitz on viola, he returned to study with Mr. Wright on Viola.
In 1982, Mr. Buckles auditioned for the Austin Symphony for the first time. He did not get in but did well enough to sub for the orchestra which he did until earning a spot in the orchestra in 1989. While in college, he also taught in the UT String Project where he met his wife, Austin Symphony Cellist, Erna Rumney Buckles. They married in 1983, shortly after he graduated from UT.
For nearly 40 years, Mr. Buckles freelanced as a musician in Central Texas, playing in community orchestras and ensembles and as a strolling violinist. He also founded and played in the Encore String Ensembles. In addition to his performance career, Mr. Buckles also taught orchestra in the public and private schools in the Austin area as well as private lessons on violin and viola.
Mr. Buckles is now retired from his career as an orchestra teacher. He currently limits most of his performances to the Austin Symphony and enjoys playing with his wife Erna in church. When not playing in the symphony, Mr. Buckles enjoys fly fishing. At Christmas, he also enjoys being Santa and playing at area hospitals. Mr. and Mrs. Buckles also enjoy the blessings of 3 children and 2 grandchildren.