Caroline Goulding
U~T San Diego

By Patricia Morris Buckley

Musicians are like storytellers, says Caroline Goulding: ‘It’s about expressing honesty’

FALLBROOK — Twenty-year-old violin prodigy Caroline Goulding has a lot to thank her older brothers for. When she first noticed them playing instruments, she immediately wanted one as well. Neither brother plays anymore, but she regularly performs with major orchestras around the world.

“I was about 3½ and fascinated with their instruments,” said Goulding, a native of Michigan (her family now lives in Ohio). “My parents believed that learning music was a good thing. They offered me the piano or the violin. I can’t remember why I chose the violin, but I soon became very passionate about it.”

She first performed for an audience at the age of 9, playing a Mozart concerto. The interaction with the audience hooked her immediately. Over time, her practice sessions went from an hour a day to four. Because her school didn’t have a strong music program, she began studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, as well.

She started competing at 13, and in 2009 she won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and received the Helen Armstrong Violin Fellowship. She went on to receive the 2011 Avery Fisher Career Grant and play with such orchestras as the London Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Houston Symphony and will play with orchestras in Germany, Japan and China in the future.

She has also appeared on television on NBC’s “Today,” “Martha” and PBS’s “From the Top.” She has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. Her first recording received a Grammy nomination. She is in her second year of studies at the New England Conservatory of Music.

“The violin is a natural, inherent part of me,” she said. “I can’t remember a time I wasn’t playing the violin. One has to work hard for it, but I can’t imagine what my life would be like without music. The honors and opportunities came at a natural progression. It didn’t happen overnight.”

At Sunday’s concert, sponsored by the Fallbrook Music Society, Goulding will perform with pianist Michael Brown. The program includes Bach’s Sonata in E Major, Kreisler’s “La Gitana,” Corigliano’s “The Red Violin Caprices” and Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances. The program stays close to the Eastern European music that she’s preparing for her next CD.

“The Bartok is particularly special to me,” she said. “It’s the first time I’ve performed it and it’s a beautiful piece, very joyful.”

Just as she experienced at the age of 9, Goulding continues to value the interaction between the musician and the audience.

“It’s a vulnerable thing to be a musician,” she said. “It’s about expressing honesty and putting yourself out there. Being a musician is similar to telling a story. People respond to a story well told. But you have to be able to put yourself in the story. That way, you’re taking the journey with the audience.”