Violinist Caroline Goulding: Success at Seventeen

Grammy Award nominee Caroline Goulding is seventeen. Unlike the hapless girl in Janice Ian's ballad, the gifted violinist has it all. Growing up in a family of music lovers, she began violin lessons at an early age and soon surpassed all expectations. Her teacher's recommendation that she pursue advanced studies with Paul Kantor at Cleveland…

Grammy Award nominee Caroline Goulding is seventeen. Unlike the hapless girl in Janice Ian's ballad, the gifted violinist has it all.

Growing up in a family of music lovers, she began violin lessons at an early age and soon surpassed all expectations. Her teacher's recommendation that she pursue advanced studies with Paul Kantor at Cleveland Institute of Music meant that the family had to relocate from their home in Michigan. Fortunately, both parents were teachers and able to find positions in Cleveland schools, so the family was not separated.

While developing into an astonishing talent, Goulding spent summers attending Michigan's Interlochen Center for the Arts, studying Celtic music on Capt Breton Island, Nova Scotia and performing at the Aspen Music Festival. By fifeen, she had won two violin concerto competitions and played as guest artist with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and other notable organizations. Because of her outgoing, social personality, she was always one of the students, not Caroline with the violin.

Hailed as a “brilliant talent … destined for greatness” by the chairman of the Stradivari Society, Goulding has made guest appearances on television's “The Today Show” and “Martha” and performed on NPR's “From the Top” and PBS's “From the Top at Carnegie Hall “with banjo artist Bela Fleck. Her instrument is the 1617 Lobkowicz A & H.

One of her favorite pieces is Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. Because it is such a massive, athletic piece, she cautions that one must build endurance enough to play it. Tchaikovsky dedicated it to violinist Leopold Auer, who said it was unplayable, but it quickly became a great favorite of violinists. The virtuosity it requires is immediately evident in the first movement, which lasts 18 out of the entire 45 minutes. Goulding laughs as she confesses that she especially loves the third movement because, “… when you get there, you're almost done and are about to play the exciting grand finale.”

She acknowledges that none of her success could have come about had she not gone to Cleveland for advanced studies. The move was far more of a sacrifice for her family than for her and she is grateful every day that they did that for her.

As recipient of First Prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and the Avery Fisher Career Grant, she has avoided the financial problems most young musicians face. Her self-titled debut album received a 2009 Grammy nomination. Her next recording will be released in June 2012.