Classical Q&A with Sarah Velasco

This month, Orchestra London continues its long tradition of showcasing young musicians when it welcomes 2011 Kiwanis Rose Bowl Winner, violinist Sarah Velasco, to the Centennial Hall stage.  The 20-year-old Velasco will perform two of her favourite works - Saint-Saëns’ Introduction & Rondo Capricciosso and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen – during the afternoon Pops concert February 10.

You began playing violin at the age of 7. What drew you to the instrument?
What drew me to the violin was how beautiful it sounded. To me, it was unlike anything I had heard. At a young age, I was fortunate enough to attend concerts of violinists like Itzhak Perlman, James Ehnes, Midori Goto... At first, playing violin was just a hobby. It developed into a relationship, and something I can't live without.

Do you remember the first piece you performed in public, and what the occasion was?
I can't remember exactly what the first piece I performed in public was...I'm assuming it was something like 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.' I do remember my first solo with orchestra though. I was ten years old and I performed Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) by Sarasate, a work that I will be playing with Orchestra London as well.

You have been competing since a young age. What do you enjoy about competing in festivals like Kiwanis?
I think that local competitions are great to do at a young age. They give you the opportunity to see what other people your age are doing with their instrument. You can learn from fellow competitors and can also get useful feedback from the adjudicators.

I look at these festivals more as performance opportunities. You aren't just playing for the prize, but for the performance itself. Every time you perform you get more comfortable with violin and the work. You learn from your mistakes, and grow every performance you do. 

How would you describe the two pieces you will be performing on the Orchestra London Pops concert?
Fiery and dramatic. They are both so fun, and two of my favorite works of all time. Definitely both crowd pleasers!

When you are not playing violin, you are a fashion journalist. Which passion - music or fashion - do you hope to pursue professionally, and why?
I hope to pursue music. I currently study with Professor Sergiu Schwartz in the United States and am working on my undergraduate degree. I've always loved fashion, and writing for fashion publications was fun. I will always love it but, it will always be second to violin.

However, I think that I can incorporate a bit of fashion into my everyday life!  I still have my fashion blog/ website , but after I decided to pursue a music degree I had to cut back.

What are your top-five favourite Spring 2013 fashion trends?
My top -five most wearable spring 2013 trends are: cut out dresses, leather leggings, black and white pieces, statement sunglasses, and bold stripes.

If You Go
What: Orchestra London Pops Orchestral Showpieces, with violinist Sarah Velasco
When: Sunday, February 10 @ 2:30 pm
Where: Centennial Hall, 550 Wellington St., London ON

Nicole Laidler is a London freelance writer, copywriter, and editor of The Beat Magazine. Read her blog at

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