As a teenager, oboist Esther Viola (Boston, 1976) toured Europe and South America with youth orchestras, playing in Vienna, Budapest, Chile and Brazil. After receiving her Bachelor of Music with Distinction from the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York) in 1998, studying with Richard Kilmer, she went to Holland to study with Ernest Rombout at the Utrecht Conservatory. She received a Fulbright Full Grant in support of her studies there. As a student she joined the street-performance group Ricciotti Ensemble and toured with the Dutch Student Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra. In 2003 she graduated cum laude with a Master of Music focused on contemporary solo and chamber music repertoire and performance.
In the Netherlands Esther specialized in playing newly composed music, working closely with composers and commissioning works from them. As a member of Duo Hibiki (with pianist Reiko Tanaka) she participated for several years in the Suite Music Week (De Suite Muziekweek) in Amsterdam. There she was directed and coached by Adelheid Roosen and Ernst Reijseger, among others, to create theatrical cross-discipline presentations of new music. She played as a guest with the modern music focused Kaida Trio, and freelanced with orchestras such as Holland Symfonia and Musica Ducis. In 2009-2009 she performed as a member of the group Brokken Fabriek in a monthly improvisation series headed by guitarist Corrie van Binsbergen.