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Shepherdstown violinist starts 13th season with MSO

October 11, 2007|By KATE COLEMAN

Violinist Heather L. Austin-Stone is Maryland Symphony Orchestra's assistant concertmaster and a bit of a juggler. The latter skill is required to balance family duties with those of a professional musician. She is married to Jamie Stone, and mother to Catherine, 10, and Aurora, 4.

In a recent phone interview from her Shepherdstown, W.Va., home - to which she had just returned after taking her two dogs to the vet - Austin-Stone, 34, shared a bit of her life and music.

Q: How long have you been playing violin? When did you start? Why?

A: Twenty-five years. They were offering it in school. I don't really know why. I said, "Oh, wow, this is cool."

(As a high school student in Dale City, Va., Austin-Stone was selected for a National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship, an honor that provided three years of free lessons with a member of the NSO. She was able to attend rehearsals and concerts free of charge.)


I wouldn't be where I am if I hadn't gotten that. It's a really great thing.

Q: How long have you played with the MSO?

A: My first season was 1995, so I'm starting my 13th season.

Q: Do you play with other musical ensembles?

A: I play with Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. I play in the Shepherd (University) Faculty String Trio. I do weddings; I do strolling violin at Violino - that's Italian for violin - a restaurant in Winchester, Va.

Q: How do you prepare for a concert? How much time do you spend preparing for each performance?

A: It depends on the music. I spend at least 10 hours of practice prior (to a particular performance).

Q: Do you practice every day? How long?

A: No! I used to practice every day, hours and hours and hours. Now I just don't have the time.

Q: Do you have a day job?

A: I teach at Shepherd and at my home and at St. James School - a total of about 21 students - ages 6 to 50s or 60s.

A: I coach the violin quartet (at St. James). The only time I can fit it in is Sunday evenings.

Q: Compare playing in the MSO and under Elizabeth Schulze's baton to playing with other orchestras and conductors.

A: I enjoy playing under Elizabeth Schulze immensely. She's probably the best conductor I've ever played with.

Q: Who's your favorite composer? Do you have a favorite composition?

A: I love Tchaikovsky; I love Brahms, Mozart, Beethoven. I can't narrow it down. I love all the violin concertos by those composers. It's almost like asking, "Which is your favorite child?" I don't have a favorite child. I love them for different reasons.

Q: What kinds of music do you listen to in your leisure time?

A: I like Simon and Garfunkel. I like The Doors.

Q: What's your favorite "nonclassical" piece of music?

A: Again, it's too many. It depends on the mood you're in.

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