Kirsten Williams studied violin with Alice Waten at the Sydney Conservatorium and Igor Ozim at the Bern Konservatorium. She has been a member of the Opera House Orchestra at Covent Garden and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields; Associate Leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra; and Associate Concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony. Kirsten has also performed widely as a soloist, chamber musician and guest orchestra leader. Kirsten has also been a mentor and tutor of Sydney Youth Orchestra and Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO), and Head of Strings at the Hume Conservatorium.
Kirsten Williams joined the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) as Concertmaster in early 2019. Two years on, she shares a bit about her role in the orchestra and her passion for connecting and building community through music.
What do you feel you bring to the role of CSO Concertmaster?
What makes me passionate about the role is inspiring others to be the best and most fulfilled they can be. That means knowing my parts back to front, knowing the score back to front, showing every nuance, every phrase, every dynamic, through my body language and my movements. It’s also about showing confidence in others and what each player brings to the orchestra and the overall result. I have the utmost respect for the unique musical journey of each and every CSO musician. It’s my job to foster a sense of unity, joy and passion, a safe space for us to express ourselves as people through music.
There's a notion of chamber music as a conversation between players. How does this idea influence the way you lead the orchestra?
The symphony orchestra is really a large chamber group. If we can get back to the understanding that all music is chamber music, it becomes more vital, I think, for the player.
Of course, it’s harder when there are more players on stage! Everybody’s eyes need to be up and around, antennas need to be out. You’ve got to be responsive to everything.
How do you unwind after a concert?
Candy Crush! [No, don’t put that in!] No, I unwind by just having a nice cup of tea. And a nice, warm bath, sometimes the muscles are a bit sore.
Your role with the CSO is evolving to incorporate more community engagement, something you're particularly passionate about. How has this come about, and what does it look like?
In conversations with our CEO, Rachel Thomas, I’ve expressed this soul desire to connect with community, to connect with people who have a love for music or a space where music might be of benefit to them.
I think what we yearn for is connection. And that means listening to each other’s stories, playing music together – that’s a sharing of stories.
We’re all one. We’re all the same underneath it all.