Karen Matsumaru has been a violist with the HPO for eight years. Growing up in Vancouver, she studied violin, piano, voice and flute. In addition to concerts on the Mainstage at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place), you may recognize Karen from other performances in the city including Happy Hour with the HPO at The Baltimore House and The HPO Indie Series feat. Illitry. Read the Q&A with Karen below and discover more about your HPO.

What’s your earliest musical memory?
My dad playing records of Tchaikovsky Symphonies while I danced around the living room.

Why did you choose to take up the viola?
I grew up studying the violin, piano, and voice, and, in fact, finished degrees in all three. However, the viola was more something that was suggested to me because it “suits my personality more”. I pursued it because of its low register, which is more like that of my actual favourite instrument, the cello!

Do you play any other instruments?
I play the violin, mostly fiddling now, piano, I sing, I can handle my own on guitar, and I can play a decent flute/piccolo combo. I’m dying to pick up the banjo.

What’s your favourite memory with the HPO?
It’s more a collective of memories. The HPO musicians, the viola section in particular, are like a family to me.


Who are your artistic influences?
Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Brandon Chui (my HPO stand partner, no joke), to name but a few. The people who live by their determination to make a difference socially and/or culturally by their music.

What are you most looking forward to in the 2015-16 Season?
The Mozart Sinfonia Concertante performance (Totally Mozart) with our section leader extraordinaire. One of my favourite violists performing one of my favourite pieces!

And just for fun… fill in the blanks.

Without music I would be ______.
Not Karen.

Music makes me feel ______.
Everything from the pit of despair to the pinnacle of glory and all the muck in between that we call life.

Music is ______.
The way by which we understand and communicate everything that is deep, meaningful, terrifying, horrifying, life-changing, and soul churning.