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Young guns: Teen up-and-comers play for symphony, chamber fest

Caroline Goulding
El Paso Times

By Doug Pullen

Caroline Goulding says she's "a work in progress," fitting for a friendly, self-effacing 18-year-old violinist.

But she's already accomplished a lot in the 15 years since she first picked up a bow and fiddle.

Goulding will join 18-year-old cellist Matthew Allen in four concerts Thursday through Jan. 30, including two with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, for El Paso Pro-Musica's 22nd annual El Paso Chamber Music Festival.

Goulding will join 18-year-old cellist Matthew Allen in four concerts Thursday through Jan. 30, including two with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra, for El Paso Pro-Musica's 22nd annual El Paso Chamber Music Festival.

She's on a roll right now. A well-traveled guest soloist with major symphonies in Cleveland, Toronto, Detroit and Dallas, Goulding was 17 when she became the youngest winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 2009.

That led to a management contract with the 50-year-old organization. In 2009 she released a self-titled debut CD that featured pianist Christopher O'Riley, whom she met during appearances on PBS' "From the Top at Carnegie Hall" and NPR's "From the Top." It was nominated for a Grammy.

She continues to rack up choice gigs and glowing praise.

"Caroline Goulding is one of the most gifted and musically interesting violinists I have heard in a long time," violinist Jaime Laredo said. "Her playing is heartfelt and dazzling throughout."

The teenager is just trying to keep it all in perspective.

"I've been very lucky," she said from Sarasota, Fla., where she had debuted with that city's orchestra.

"It's all come as kind of a whirlwind, really. That's why I'm trying to pace myself, musically as well," she said. "I  want to make sure I am improving. É I think the worst fear I have is to get to a point and just stop É when people begin to burn out. I'm really trying to keep a level head, but it's been wonderful."

That's pretty much what Zuill Bailey, Pro-Musica's artistic director, says about Goulding and Allen, who'll share a stage with Bailey at the chamber festival's Jan. 30 finale.

"These are two of the hotter young musicians," Bailey said.

He plans to keep them busy. Their week will start with the festival's final Bach's Lunch, a free concert at noon Thursday at the El Paso Museum of Art.

The two young musicians will be the featured soloists with the El Paso Symphony at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Plaza Theatre, part of the orchestra's sixth annual collaborative concerts with Pro-Musica. They'll join maestra Sarah Ioannides and the orchestra on Brahms' Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor. The program also includes Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C Major.

"The Brahms double is very difficult, not only technically but musically and harmonically," the violinist said. "What's very important in Brahms' music especially are the harmonic elements."

Goulding and Allen will close the festival with the "International

Bailey thinks audiences will look back on these concerts for years to come.

"It'll be one of those concerts where you hear them at an early age, and in 15 or 20 years say, 'I heard them back then,' " he said.

Goulding, a native of Port Huron, Mich., was 3 when she got the music bug from her older brothers, who played as a hobby. Her parents, both special education teachers, weren't big classical music buffs.Competition Winners" concert at 2 p.m. Jan. 30 at UTEP's Fox Fine Arts Center Recital Hall.

"My dad's tone-deaf," she said.

But they supported her, moving the family to Cleveland when she was 12 to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music's prep school; she's been in the college division since 2009. Goulding has attended various music camps from early childhood, including the Aspen Music Festival's and one run by the Juilliard School.

Goulding met cellist Allen at the Cleveland Institute and has performed with him a few times, most recently in 2009 at a Bach festival in Lexington, Mich., about 45 miles north of her hometown, Port Huron.

"He's a wonderful cellist and musician," she said.

"We've played a couple of duos together, which were fun," she added. "I know him well, really respect his musicianship and am completely excited to be working with him again."

Allen is a native of Denton, Texas, who began his studies at age 4. He's won many competitions, including the Gaspar Cassado International Violincello Competition in Japan when he was 17.

He released his first album in 2009 and has studied with top musicians and organizations, including the Cleveland Orchestra artist-in-residence fellowship program, Pinchas Zukerman, and Bailey. His performance credits include the Tokyo Philharmonic.

Goulding's whirlwind is about to go to another level. She recently changed management and will take a leave from the Cleveland Institute in the fall to study with Donald Weilerstein at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music.

The rising star has other musical interests. Goulding likes pop and rock artists, including Jason Mraz and Radiohead, and has studied Cape Breton fiddling, a Canadian branch of Irish fiddling, since she was 8. She hasn't had much time for it lately, but she hopes to pursue that and other musical outlets as she gets older.

"I want to be as multifaceted as possible," she said. "I love Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma, who do all kinds of things. They're very similar at the end of the day. It's music.