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October 27, 2020

Rising to the Challenge

Learn more about the new concertmaster of the ISO, Kevin Lin

ISO Concertmaster Kevin Lin grew up in northern New Jersey in the city of Tenafly. He attend the public school system in Tenafly; this is where he began to play the violin at the Thurnauer School of Music. He was first taught to play through the Suzuki method, which prioritized aural training when beginning the violin. From there, Kevin went onto to study at the Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Division. He was then fortunate enough to obtain a spot at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, the same school that fellow ISO musicians Conrad Jones and Austin Huntington attended. After completing his studies at Colburn, Kevin attended two years at Curtis Institute of Music. After completing his studies at Curtis, he went to the London Philharmonic Orchestra as co-concertmaster where he remained for three years before calling Indiana and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra home in January of this year.

Kevin loves living in Indy. Having always lived in big cities (New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and London), he became used to a lot of chaos and not having a lot of free time. He feels that Indy is a big, small city, which he really enjoys. Kevin feels that Indy is very communal and family-oriented. An example of this is that while taking runs along the canal he passes familiar faces of fellow exercisers.

Kevin’s background in music was somewhat limited. Although his mother is a classically trained opera singer, she did not perform, as she took to the role of motherhood. However, his father always appreciated classical music, which Kevin came to appreciate as well.

Kevin has acclimated to being part of the ISO during this year’s pandemic. He has been performing in community events with fellow ISO musicians. He appreciates that outdoor music is still being played in community events, despite the pandemic. Kevin feels that the musicians’ desire to keep the music playing exudes a “Ride or Die” mentality, which is much appreciated and shows character and passion for classical music. As concertmaster, Kevin is thriving on what his peers are managing to make happen. He feels that this autonomy (under the current constraints) of a purely run musician organization is unique and very rare to find.

Although inspired by the orchestra’s ability to adapt to the current situation, Kevin looks forward to when musicians and patrons are together again at the theatre. In looking at the provenance of the ISO, its history includes being an international touring orchestra with a phenomenal reputation. Kevin feels that classical music is going through its own evolution at this time, and that the ISO’s national presence has taken a backseat over the past few decades. However, he feels that there continues to be an accumulation of talent at the ISO that is world class. Kevin is proud that the orchestra’s music is being brought to Indy, but he sees the future including the orchestra as a top ranked national and international orchestra. He feels that orchestra has what it takes at this time, but the ability to move forward at the grander level will take time and teamwork. 

Kevin notes that the ISO has seen its share of challenges in 2020. Several changes have occurred quickly: Kevin came on board as the new concertmaster, the 20-21 season is the last season for Krzysztof Urbański to serve as the Music Director, and then of course, the coronavirus pandemic. Much like any team sport, Kevin feels that the orchestra not playing together for a year will require time for them to synthesize together again. Kevin is excited to face the current challenges in the next season. He loves to do things well and enjoys having the opportunity to bring something to the table. Given the current situation, Kevin has been given an opportunity to do something for the community and the orchestra.

In his free time, Kevin Lin enjoys photography. This came to be when he was in Los Angeles and immersed in all the art mediums. He also recently became a runner, having put on his first pair of running shoes in March of this year. He and other musicians have developed an ISO running group that runs once or twice a week. He hopes to do a marathon and to work up to an Iron Man. He also enjoys playing tennis.