...and the highlight of the concert appears: the world premiere of Michael Pepa’s 'ISOMORPHE' for mezzo-soprano, violin, accordion, and ensemble (2008). The soloists are outstanding. Lynn Kuo’s violin is dramatic, both rousing and melancholy...” - Stanley Fefferman

Showtime Magazine; Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Welcome to my site!

I'm Lynn, Assistant Concertmaster of the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, concert violinist, and Founder of Violin with Dr. Lynn.

As a violinist, I perform as a recitalist, chamber musician, soloist, studio musician, orchestral musician, and guest Concertmaster.
As a violin educator, I help advanced violinists transform their technical and musical challenges into greater confidence onstage.

My Violin Bootcamp 2.0 is starting January 2021!

Grab your chance to study with me and quality for your Early-Early Bird Bonuses 🎁before December 10th.

Click on the link above to find out more!

Introducing the world premiere of ‘If Life Were a Mirror’ by Kevin Lau, commissioned with the assistance from the Ontario Arts Council.

Kevin and I look forward to presenting this concert (originally a recital tour, which was cancelled due to the pandemic) LIVE and on internet re-broadcast:

Sunday, November 22nd, 3:00pm 

Presented by Les AMIS Concerts

The Loft Cinema

201 Division St.

Cobourg, Ontario.

Program:

Aaron Jay Kernis Air for violin and piano

Beethoven Sonata Op. 30, No.2, in C minor 

Michael Pepa Sonata for Solo Violin (1979)

Kevin Lau If Life Were a Mirror (world premiere)

Arvo Pärt Spiegel im Spiegel

 Limited seating to 21 seats.

Tickets may be purchased by $30 via e-transfer to kenprue@gmail.com

UPDATE November 4th, 2020: SOLD OUT! 

Thank you for your support of live music!

 

BLOG: Violynn Tales

Christmas in Quarantine... 

The National Ballet of Canada 2020-21 season is cancelled. 

This pandemic is taking a large toll on us musicians worldwide and as we enter into the second wave (at least here in Toronto, we are in the Red Zone), I urge us all to stop and do a self-inventory of habits or choices that we may be making that might be contributing to the spread of this virus. 

Are you masking appropriately? (Are you touching the outside of your mask? I was guilty of this and have stopped!) 

Are you inappropriately socializing indoors with friends? (I sneaked in a visit or two with friends recently but will also now stop.) 

Despite a vaccine on the horizon, we may not have the entire population vaccinated and protected against infection until a year from now! 

This means that we are all potential victims and silent CARRIERS of COVID-19.  My sister has a depressed immune system and my parents too are vulnerable to contract the illness. I’m sure we all know people who would suffer greatly and die from this highly contagious virus. 

I am appalled to hear that some businesses (and people I know) are still partaking in activities that are contributing to community exposure (partner dance classes with only visors being worn?? Dipping your utensils into communal food dishes? - I wouldn’t even do that even if there was no pandemic.) 

My point is: there are countless numbers of us who have LOST INCOME, who are no longer employed, struggling to pay rent, put food on the table, feed families, pay bills, and keep loved ones healthy and alive…. 

Please, let’s think of ourselves as a WHOLE and accept shorter-term pain for a long-term gain. 

Mask Up, Stay at Home, and Keep Distance. 

I want the world to get back to normal *as soon as possible*.  

In the meantime, I have made the decision to leave my Toronto home (again) and re-locate back to Newfoundland in December. At least until my work conditions return back to what they used to be… which likely means the end of 2021. 

Countless other people are in the same situation. 

I never expected to have to pack up my belongings AGAIN just 3 months after I got back home to Toronto. But there it is. 

Since I will be Christmas-ing in Quarantine this holiday season and will only get out just in time for New Year’s Eve, I will welcome all suggestions for quarantine activities! 

I’m never one to NOT stay busy, but I’d love to hear all about your  

  • favourite at-home workouts 
  • absolute must-reads 
  • top Netflix pleasures 

Here’s to staying safe, making healthy choices for the greater good, and for making the best of your situation - no matter where you are.

P.S. I think I might start a 14-day blog series called 'Christmas in Quarantine'... or 'The *14* Days of Christmas'....whaddayathink?

Tales from the Pit: The day my violin broke into two pieces 💥😱 

Can you believe it? I’ve reached 20 years at the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra! 

They awarded me my 20-year anniversary pin! 

 

Despite not playing in the pit this pandemic year, I still have many “tales from the pit” to share over the course of my career at the National Ballet of Canada

Perhaps one of the more interesting (embarrassing?) ones is the time I dropped my violin in the middle of The Sleeping Beauty

Yes. The instrument slipped right out from underneath my neck, out of my fingers and splat flat on the floor!

Act 2 was coming to a climactic ending: Aurora had just been kissed by the Prince and the magic spell that was cast on the entire kingdom had lifted. The entire court of royals had awakened from their slumber and a celebratory climax had been reached! 

As the tremolos got louder in the strings (and there are A LOT of tremolos in Sleeping Beauty by the way!), my finger position on the E string climbed higher and higher ... and the bare violin against my pit black clothing proved to be a bit slippery that day. 

...and WHOOP, there went my violin… SPLAT 💥on the floor. 

For those of you that don’t play with a shoulder rest, THIS is why I hesitate to join you! 😖 I was not playing with a shoulder rest at the time and remember trying to keep my neck relaxed and shoulder down. (I'll have to share the story of how I got injured and couldn’t even lift a frying pan!) 

So whatever you do, please don’t try this at home: playing without a shoulder rest, shifting up high on the E string, and keeping your left shoulder relaxed 😣.  

I remember going into shock and disbelief. 

I was still holding my bow in my right hand when I looked down to where my violin lay face down on the floor. The orchestra continued to surge in volume as Dominique, the Principal Second Violin, paused from her tremolo to bend down and scoop my instrument up from off the floor. 

“It’s okay, Lynn”, she said as she quickly handed me back my instrument. 

  

I snapped myself out of my shock and proceeded to check if my instrument was in tune. 

I attempted to pluck the strings and discovered that my fingerboard was immediately protesting: giving way under my fingers and staring back at me at a terrifyingly jaunty angle. 

😳 

Sooo... guess who SAT IN THE AUDIENCE for Act 3?🤦🏻‍♀️ 

(By the way, Act 3 in Sleeping Beauty is kind of slow 🤭) 

  

As luck would have it, Johann, one of our violists and a viola maker (who's also celebrating 20 years!), took my violin home that very night and had the fingerboard glued and clamped overnight. 

Can you believe I was back to playing the next Sunday matinee? 🙌 

Moral of the story: Lynn goes without a shoulder rest at her own risk.

 

P.S. In addition to the next instalment of Tales from the Pit (stay tuned for Hamlet and a Gun Shooting), keep an eye out on my YouTube channel where I will soon release an unboxing video of a Kréddle chin rest - my attempt to explore a new set up... without a shoulder rest?? 😬 

P.P.S. By the way, word got around fast in Toronto that weekend that Lynn needed to start strapping her instrument 🎻 to her neck during performances. 🙈 

P.P.P.S. Not only will I be bringing my 20 years' worth of experience to my Violin Bootcamp 2.0 in January 2021, I have some incredible violinists with multiple decades' worth of collective orchestra and performance experience delivering guest masterclasses!   
Would you like a sneak peek of who they are? Click here to see who my six amazing guest artists are! 

I got mouthy with a US Border guard 😬 

Okay, so I don't always make the best decisions.  

It's coming up on 360 days without taking a vacation (yup, I missed Christmas last year) and I think it's high time I took a break.  

As the summer is quickly coming to its end and September is upon us, I'm reminded of a Labour Day Weekend when I got a little fresh with a US border guard.  

Are you ready for a story? Pull up a freshly-squeezed orange juice and enjoy, cuz it's a fun one!  

For Labour Day Weekend in 2014, I got invited to a swank little cottage in the Thousand Islands with a bunch of super fun friends. (Lake! Hot-tub! Friends! Merriment!)  

But guess who also had a performance of Beethoven Triple Concerto... right around the corner! Doh, timing!  
(The poster is still hanging in my parents' home.) 

It wouldn't have been the first time I brought my instrument along with me on vacation... (There was that time in Barbados in 2012, the summer in San Francisco in 2017... oh yeah, Vegas in 2015...)  

But how could you blame me? It was a concerto gig!  
I wanted to knock it out of the park for my homecoming appearance in Newfoundland! So yes, I did bring my axe.  

The Situation:  

We picked up groceries on the Canadian side of the border and loaded up the vehicle with a weekend's worth of food for 8 people. Our first stop was to be a dock where two friends would pick up a motor boat and cross the border to head to the cottage. We strategically divvied up the contents of the grocery bags so that the boat friends could take (read: smuggle) the 'forbidden' stuff on our behalf across the border (meats, fresh produce, etc.).  

My companion and I blithely continued towards the border in the vehicle eagerly anticipating the refreshing water of the lake upon our arrival. We expected a routine check with smiles at the border and a hearty "Enjoy your weekend".  

But that's not what happened.  

"Can we open the trunk?"  

[Rifling through shopping bags]  

 ..."Do you have anything to declare?"  

We looked at each other.  

"...No...?"  

"Please step out of the car."  

(What did we do?)  

"You can leave everything in the car but take your valuables."  

Like any common-sense violinist, I swung my instrument on my shoulder, grabbed my wallet, and proceeded to head towards the customs inspection building. (I once left my violin in the overhead compartment of an airport shuttle bus in Montreal and ever since then, I learned my lesson to never let my instrument out of my sight!... Hey, I was 15, don't judge me...)  

Scary Male Border Guard: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? LEAVE THAT IN THE CAR!"  

Who was this guy shouting at me? I was not amused.  

"But this is my violin..."  

Scary Male Border Guard: "YOU WERE TOLD TO TAKE ONLY YOUR VALUABLES."  

Me: "...This is valuable to ME!" (Yes, I may have been a little indignant.)  

Scary Male Border Guard: "YOU WERE TOLD TO LEAVE EVERYTHING IN THE CAR."  

Me: "I was told to take my valuables with me! This is worth MORE THAN THE CAR...!" [hot-headed]  

Cue my companion trying to tell me to ... KEEP QUIET.  

 

The Interrogation:  

Half an hour (an hour?) later, Lynn and companion are sitting in hard vinyl chairs awaiting the "questioning".  

"Lynn, you DO NOT argue with a *US BORDER GUARD*...! Do you understand??"  

Slowly, fear and realization began to settle in.  

Lynn began to sweat.  

Lynn began to get a little anxious.  

Maybe I could have kept my mouth shut...?  
Used a few... less words?  

What did we have that was triggering suspicion from the border guards??  

Stories of violinists with their valuable instruments confiscated at the US border began to swim through my mind.  

(They'll take my violin away from me... my bow...I just bought it! ... my concert coming up... I need my violin to practice!)  

This was not getting funny.  

Our turn for interrogation:  

"Please ma'am, [heart pounding] I apologize for my 'attitude' with the border guard... but [sheepishly] he was ALSO giving me attitude..."  

(Please don't take my violin away!)  

"Would you like to DECLARE anything?"  

My companion, the ever smooth communicator, spotted a telling glint in the Border Guard's eye.  

(Declare WHAT though? What did we possible have in our car that we needed to declare?)  

My companion caught the look: "Ok, yes. I think we will say that we have items to declare."  

Box checked.  

The border guard then revealed that should we have chosen "Nothing to Declare", we would have been subjected to a FINE.  

But for what??  

*$60* PER ITEM not declared.  

The items?  

 3. single. lemons.  

The Arrival:  

Still frazzled from our nerve-wracking ordeal, we arrived to find our friends knocking back beverages, laughing heartily at our much delayed arrival from within the steaming luxuries of the hot tub.  

I clutched my violin close to me not quite ready to part with it. The hot tub was beckoning however, as was the promise of a beverage garnished with a lemon wedge...  

The only story that tops this border-crossing story is the time I got pulled out of a train in the middle of the night crossing the Ukrainian-Hungarian border (also involving my violin!) I'll have to tell you that story next time!  

Moral of the Story:  

Lynn doesn't always make the best decisions.  
Lynn still foolishly takes her violin on vacations.  

Will Lynn be taking her violin on bay-cation this year?  
Umm... yes...?  

And please don't laugh:  

I'm planning on bringing 3 lemons for the trip.

Me in Beethoven Triple Concerto with Rafael Hoekman, cello; Thomas Yee, piano: Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra; Marc David conductor

September 2014.

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