Chicago Philharmonic Violinist Carmen Llop Kassinger

Carmen Llop KassingerQ. Who inspired you to pursue music as a career?

A. My brother Michael always told the story of me as a 5 year old, watching an orchestra concert on public television. He said I went up to the screen, pointed at the violin section and said, “I’m going to do that.” I’m so lucky I had supportive musicians around me as a child. Listening to my mother play Beethoven piano sonatas for hours was very inspiring, she loves music so much and her playing is my earliest memory. I had some wonderful teachers as a youngster that taught me for free when we couldn’t afford it. And as a high school student, I was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. This ensemble not only provided me with the opportunity to play real, big orchestra repertoire and experience top level coaching from members of the Atlanta Symphony, but I had a free ticket to every Atlanta Symphony Concert! Some weeks I went three times! I heard world class soloists, had the chance to meet them backstage, and was exposed to wonderful music. It was a thrilling time. I love the way the Chicago Philharmonic reaches out to young, talented players. It is the surest way of perpetuating our art. I know it worked for me.

Q. What do you like most about the CPO’s ensemble approach to creating music?
A. I think Joel Smirnoff said it best at the end of one of our rehearsals with him; “It’s chamber music, you know what to do!” That statement really sums up this orchestra; wonderful players and wonderful conductors that lead us and trust us to make music amongst ourselves! It is an honor to play with this group.

Q. What new endeavors would you like to see the CPO pursue in the future?
A. I love the idea of using the orchestra in varied ensembles; the full orchestra, but also chamber music. I would love to see the group collaborate with other arts organizations on the northshore. The more opportunities musicians have to play together, the more intimate the music making.

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