A well-known quote from Shakespeare reads, “If music be the food of love, play on.” One Billings teenager is hungry for a taste of more and has traveled far and wide to hone her trade. Kassidy Casterline recently visited New York City to perform as a violinist in the 2018 Middle School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. The Junior Orchestra is composed of an international, audition-only group of exceptional musicians. We caught up with Kassidy and her family when they returned from their exciting venture to the Big Apple to hear more about their experience.
Q: How did Kassidy become interested in playing the violin, and what has music brought to her life?
A: Kassidy’s mom, Stacey, says that she has always loved music. “When she was a baby, she would wake up in the morning and start singing!” Kassidy tried the violin in 2nd grade and found it challenging enough to keep her interest. From classical pieces to fiddle tunes to more contemporary styles, Kassidy loves to perform diverse types of music both with an orchestra and as a soloist. Stacey initially began teaching her daughter, but soon found that the student was quickly surpassing the teacher in her musical prowess. Kassidy began studying with Barb Kirk over three years ago and is thankful for the opportunities music has provided in her life.
Q: Tell us more about the Carnegie Hall experience. How was Kassidy chosen, and what was it like?
A: Kassidy says, “Playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City was amazing! I made new friends while I was there, and being in the city was an exciting (and noisy) experience.” She was encouraged to audition by her violin instructor, who helped to prepare her audition and made sure she was ready for the rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule in The Big City. The audition process was intense and competitive, as only 125 orchestra students were accepted into the program. Kassidy and her family were thrilled to realize she made the cut along with student musicians from 44 other states as well as international instrumentalists from Canada, Taiwan, Mexico, and Europe. One of the highlights of the trip was studying with renowned conductor Kirt Mosier, performing for a crowd that included Kassidy’s parents and younger brother, along with her grandmother who traveled from Minnesota to attend the concert. Although much of their time in New York was focused on getting ready for the performance, Kassidy and her family had time to experience many of the sights and performing arts in the bustling city. Kassidy remembered, “We went to see Anastasia and the Lion King on Broadway!” An exceptional experience for any youngster with their eye on the stage.
Q: What is it that draws Kassidy to music?
A: Kassidy’s love for music extends beyond the joy it brings to her own life. She loves playing as a part of a larger group in the orchestra and bringing a smile to the face of anyone who can hear the strains of her violin as she brings bow to strings. She plays in her school orchestra at St. Francis and performs with the Billings Youth Orchestra and Chorale. Although violin is her first love, Kassidy is also an accomplished pianist and vocalist. Her mom says, “She loved to play the piano before she could even walk.” Today you might find Kassidy singing and playing on the worship team at her church, where both of her parents serve on the pastoral team. She is also recruiting other family members and friends to her musical lifestyle, and recently completed a student teaching course that trained her to teach lessons alongside her piano instructor, Stephanie Davis. Younger brother Koen has also been known to be a willing pupil to Kassidy’s instruction. Whether she is listening to her favorite praise and worship tunes or rehearsing a particularly tricky section in a Bach minuet, Kassidy Casterline is chasing her dreams to find out just how far her passion for music can take her, from the Big Sky all the way to the Big Apple.
about the author…Brooke Wagner is a Southern girl at heart, but a Montana girl by choice. She lives in Billings with her husband, three children, one dog who thinks she is human, and one very therapeutic horse.
Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s August 2018 issue.
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