Meet Kierstan Arkleysmith, viola player for your West Australian Symphony Orchestra

Can you remember your first performance?

My teacher had studio concerts regularly but my first big performance was for my Grade 1 class; I teamed up with my friend who played the piano and we played ‘The Happy Farmer’.

How did you find yourself playing the viola?

My mother succumbed to my pestering to learn the violin after about a year. Somewhere along the line I noticed that the people I wanted to be played the viola and not the violin, so I thought clearly that 2 + 2 = 7 and asked to change. I was dissuaded at the time and subsequently for a number of reasons, including size, I didn’t actually change instruments until I had finished my music degree on violin.

What concert are you most looking forward to in the upcoming 2020 season and why?

I love the energy of John Adams’ Absolute Jest for String Quartet and Orchestra in Masters 1, and I’m looking forward to hearing our new principal viola, Daniel Schmitt play the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante in Masters 2, but I’m a fan of Dvořák so I think Masters 4 will be one I look forward to the most, especially as that one also has a world premiere on the program and Gil Shaham playing Brahms!

Which musician(s) do you admire? Why?

The musicians I really admire are some of the buskers in the big city subways whose playing is so captivating that you’re compelled to stop and listen. 

What do you enjoy most about your career?

I love the fact that doing something I enjoy also brings joy to the audience.

How do you feel after a concert?

Usually I’m pretty hungry... we used to get cake in the concert hall cafe after concerts before joining everyone else in the bar.

Where was your last holiday destination?

Home, and it was fabulous!

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of passing on your skills to the next generation? 

The knowledge that people will always want to play and hear music, and that orchestras will continue to exist.

How do you see the partnership of WASO and MSWA benefitting the community?

I see this partnership as an opportunity for WASO to take the space as an essential service within our community providing live music as a wellness tool rather than a commodity. With the support of MSWA we have been able to advocate for the engagement of people under the age of 30 with WASO and it is exciting to deliver concerts with this greater diversity of ages in our audience.

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