Gallia Kastner will be Orchestra Santa Monica’s featured soloist for our October 1 concert with Mozart’s “Turkish” Violin Concerto No. 5. We are very pleased to be presenting Gallia and thought it
would be fun to learn and share some background information about this fabulous young artist.
Q: When did you start playing the violin and how did you decide this was the instrument for you?
A: I started studying the violin privately at the age of five. Coming from a family of exceptional tennis
players, my mother first had me try tennis but I kept dropping the racket. She eventually gave up, and
turned to music per the request of my grandfather, who loved the violin. The violin felt so natural to
me, like the limb I had been missing all my life.
Q: Who are your favorite composers and/or pieces and why?
A: My favorite composer is Johannes Brahms. I'm a huge fan of listening and performing romantic
works, from Beethoven to Rachmaninoff, but any work written by Brahms (particularly the violin
concerto) makes me appreciate classical music even more than I already do.
Q: Can you tell us about the violin you are playing?
A: I play on an 1843 Giovanni Francesco Pressenda violin on generous loan from The Mandell
Collection of Southern California. It has the incredible capability of being bright and warm at the same
time. I’m truly grateful to the Mandell's for this opportunity to play on an instrument with such power.
Q: What is one of the best pieces of advice you’re received?
A: My father gave me the best advice that I still continue to follow to this day. He told me, “There will
be many moments of success and failure in your life. Never let a comment ruin your spirit or sense of
style. If you like the way you do something, you get on that stage and you own it.”
Q: Any favorite playing experiences?
A: I’ve been fortunate enough to have played in so many different venues and organizations. If I had to choose just one, I would say my favorite musical experience was performing with my best friends in a string quartet for the 2014 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. After a year of working so hard, we won the gold medal award, leaving us with smiles that lasted for weeks.
Q: Any particularly difficult or challenging playing experiences?
A: There was a period of time when my bridge would cut through my E strings fairly regularly. In two international competitions and several performances, my E string broke while I was playing. I then had to walk off stage to find a new E string, strap it in, and return to the stage as if nothing had happened. This is unfortunately, something that cannot be practiced and it can be a complete battlefield for your mind on stage. Happy to report that the issue with the bridge has been fixed!
Q: Any other outside interests or hobbies?
A: I have a passion for photography. I have always been so interested in creating the perfect photo, going through several different camera bodies and lenses to get the perfect headshot. I often take my friends and colleagues out for photoshoots, and I never get tired of editing and playing around with all kinds of lighting and coloring.
Q: Any special performances you’re looking forward to?
A: I have many performances lined up, including a couple of recitals near the end of 2017, but one performance I'm particularly excited for is another solo performance with my school’s orchestra, the Colburn Orchestra. I will be playing the first movement of the Sibelius Violin Concerto on October 6th,
in Zipper Hall. I also perform regularly as concertmaster of the American Youth Symphony. We have several performance dates to choose from on the AYS website.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: I’ve actually been fortunate enough to have played a couple of Mozart Concertos with orchestras, Concerto No. 2 and No. 4 to be exact! But, I’m particularly more excited to be playing No. 5 with Orchestra Santa Monica because it happens to be my favorite concerto out of the five. I’m looking forward to putting on a show!