Jo McKean, Violinist
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Behind the scenes Interview & Biography
What first drew you to music?
“From a young age, the beauty of classical music stirred me deeply.
I would spend day after day in front of a second-hand electronic keyboard. Seeing this, my parents encouraged me to pursue my musical interest with formal lessons. Since I already had an aunt who led the Warsaw Philharmonic for many years, the violin seemed a natural family choice.
I began violin lessons at the age of 7 with Urszula Kamburowski. She set the foundation for all that would follow. Today, as I teach students of my own, I remember her ability to harness the creative spark within me, and how she helped to grow my passion for music into a lifelong dedication.“
What are some of the personal highlights of your musical experiences?
“I spent many years playing in the Bay City Strings Chamber Orchestra in my home town of Geelong, Australia.
We played local concerts and made interstate trips, but without question the highlight was touring Zimbabwe in 1996 as a group. We performed at a hotel overlooking the Victoria Falls during sunset, dragged our instruments up hills to play music for local villages, and listened to hundreds of school children sing the African anthem. Some things will stay with you forever...
During my High School years, I joined the Melbourne Youth Orchestra. Working with them instilled in me the commitment, focus, and determination that playing in such a prestigious organization required. One of my fondest memories during my time working with them was performing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in a sold-out performance at Melbourne Town Hall.”
How did music become part of your adult life?
“Moving away to study Engineering at the University of Melbourne led me to a new teacher: Mark Mogilevski of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. As a master of violin technique, he helped to mature my playing to an even higher level of finesse.
While at the University, I also joined the Engineering Music Society. Along with all the fun and frivolity that a University orchestra offers, we also played for formal functions, recorded TV commercials, and began a separate String Quartet named ‘Friends of Music.’
Our quartet played for weddings, parties, wine tastings, and building openings. Over time, the four of us became the closest of friends. Some of our happiest times were spent practicing together and sharing stories long into the night.”
When did you move the USA?
“Leaving my native Australia in 2014 was tough. Although I left behind a lifetime of memories, my music has allowed me to make new connections and grow new friendships in my adopted Michigan. “
Jo McKean plays with the Troy Metro Symphony since joining in 2016.
She teaches violin in Rochester Hills, Michigan and surrounding areas to ages 4+.