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MUSOs of the ASO: Carolyn Mooz, Viola

8 May 2020
  • Musician Spotlight
by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
MUSOs of the ASO: Carolyn Mooz, Viola

Carolyn Mooz grew up in Los Altos Hills, California. She knew she would make music her life when she heard the San Francisco Symphony live, performing Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. She has been living in Adelaide and playing with the ASO for the past 22 years.

Carolyn plays an ergonomic viola made by Hiroshi Iizuka in Pennsylvania. Hiroshi named the viola “Archie” because the first time he adorned it with strings was the same day as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son Archie was born.

In isolation, Carolyn is enjoying the time to explore other repertoire she normally doesn’t have time for. Carolyn has pulled some Bach solo suites and etudes off the shelf to keep her musically fit, and is looking at some new pieces that she’s never learnt before.

Take some time to get to know Carolyn.

Masters of Music Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University

If I weren’t a professional musician I’d be:
A psychologist

How did you choose the viola?
I started playing piano and violin but didn’t enjoy either one. My youth orchestra conductor suggested I try the viola and I fell in love with the low C string and its mellow quality.

Describe the best thing about being a musician:
It’s impossible to describe the feeling I get when playing such amazing pieces of music together with others. Sublime!

Music to me is… everything. It drives me inside and makes me feel better every day.

Who has influenced you most as a musician?
Probably Michael Tilson Thomas (a famous American conductor) and my teacher, Karen Tuttle.

If you could play a different instrument, which would you choose and why?
The bassoon. I have no idea why except I think the bassoon and viola are similar in their quirky sound and in the roles they play within an ensemble.

Which solo or moment in the viola orchestral repertoire is your favourite?
The violas get some wonderful moments in Bruckner’s 4th Symphony and well as in Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.

My most memorable performance/s with the ASO:   
Australia’s first home-grown production of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung was incredible it was staged in three cycles by the State Opera of South Australia. And another highlight – also a State Opera production – Jake Heggie’s opera, Dead Man Walking.

COVID-19 has put a hold over ASO concerts. What do you miss the most about not being able to perform?
Like I mentioned earlier… it’s impossible to describe the feeling of making music with others. It’s a deep physical and emotional connection when we are all working together creating music and then delivering it to the audience and witnessing them being positively altered by them being there.

How many hours a day are you practising, and what repertoire are you selecting? Where in the house do you practise?
I practise at least 2 hours a day (often more) in a spare upstairs bedroom that gets lots of sunlight.

What is the thing you most crave whilst living in isolation?
Talking with my friends, which we are still doing…just not in person.

When you’re not performing or practising, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Our dogs require lots of walks because we have no yard for them to do their business. That definitely gets me out of the house for some fresh air and exercise. I like to knit, play games and read as well.

Carolyn’s standard poodles

When you’re not listening to classical music what do you listen to?
70s music, Lior, and the podcast This American Life

Name three pieces of music you love, and why.  

  1. Aaron Copland Appalachian Spring because it’s so beautiful and uplifting.
  2. Anything by Prokofiev. I really love his harmonic language.
  3. Mozart’s Symphony Concertante. This is a piece for violin and viola solo with an orchestra. The second movement reminds me of two people having a discussion with one another. It’s really beautiful.

Do you come from a musical family?
My grandmother played the organ and piano and my grandfather played the violin (not classically, more by ear) and the spoons!

Name three things people may not know about you.

  1.   I’ve lived in Italy (Spoleto, Trieste and Catania) and also in Switzerland (Zurich and Basel)
  2.   We clip and groom our two Standard Poodles ourselves
  3.   I’ve done my laundry with Elizabeth McGovern (Cora in Downton Abbey)

What’s your idea of a perfect day in Adelaide? 
A mild day of around 23 degrees, with the birds singing and enjoying a walk in nature around our home with our dogs. Cooking a lovely dinner with my husband and sharing a glass of nice wine with our meal.

If you could ask one composer one question what would it be?
Mozart. How would you describe the popular music of 2020?

What’s your favourite type of food? 
Haha. I like most food types…unfortunately!

What’s the weirdest thing in your fridge/pantry?
Dried Barberries

What books are on your nightstand? 
Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer and The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris.

Do you speak any other languages? 
Italian and German but both are quite rusty these days.

Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy knitting, puzzles and games.

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