While many musicians have music in their blood, for others it takes a lot of convincing their parents to let them start the lessons that would lead to the main stage of the magnificent Perth Concert Hall. We asked some of your West Australian Symphony Orchestra musicians what first drew them to a life of music.

Kathryn Lee, Violin

Kathryn sees herself as one of the rare classical musicians, whose parents had very little interest in music, “Violin was the instrument that I begged to learn as a four-year-old Perth girl and I eventually wore my parents down. The screaming cat noises didn’t deter me, despite my parents pleading with me to find another hobby. We all persevered and it definitely took a few years for me to make slightly more palatable sounds.” 

Kathryn started to play with youth orchestras in her teens and was immediately drawn to becoming an orchestral violinist, “I was very lucky to have wonderful teachers (some from WASO) and life-long musical friends who I adore sharing a stage with every weekend.”

Kathryn Lee

Julia Brooke, Horn

It was inevitable that Julia would end up in a musical career with both of her parents having been professional musicians, “My dad was Associate Principal Bassoon in the Sydney Symphony for 25 years, and also worked around Europe. My mum was an Opera singer in the Frankfurt Opera, as well as a freelancer around Europe. She was also a high school music teacher eventually in Sydney.”

Both of Julia’s parents have since retired and now run community music programs in the Derwent Valley in Tasmania. 

Kathryn Lee, Julia Brooke and Melanie Pearn

Melanie Pearn, Violin

Melanie’s desire to play the violin began when she was just three years old, “Growing up in the Barossa Valley I was exposed to brass bands and German choirs as a small child, and the odd recorder duo at home. In the mid-1980s, Adelaide-born violinist Jane Peters performed at many local churches during the Sunday service as performance preparation for her overseas endeavours and this is where I first heard and saw the violin.”

Sitting through a church service is long for any three-year-old, but Melanie’s mum recalls she sat there completely quiet and enthralled by the experience, “From this performance came an endless request to learn the violin, which finally got listened to two years later. I even had a picture of Jane Peters stuck on the inside of my wardrobe door! I proudly announced to my schoolteacher that my parents were in Adelaide buying me a violin and she had her doubts, since my vivid imagination was not all that truthful.” 11 years later Melanie played at the wedding of that teacher’s daughter.

Melanie is definitely one with music in her blood, “My paternal grandparents met while studying music – Pipe Organ – at the Elder Conservatorium, University of Adelaide. They always involved themselves in community music activities in each place they lived, including the indigenous communities.”

Her parents also have an understanding and appreciation for classical music, “My mum taught all of her children the recorder and to read music whilst learning to read words. Dad – a builder/carpenter, still has ABC FM proudly playing on the worksite with no station requests allowed. My sisters and I have all chosen music as a career path, myself on violin in WASO, one sister is the Associate Principal Flute in QSO and the other a freelance cellist in Hobart. So one may say there is a musical link in my family.”

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