Kelly Knox

Cello

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Alma maters: Indiana University Jacobs School of Music; Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts

Photos by Matt Dine

Profile

Appearances: MúsicaOcupa, Ecuador, 2017–18; Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, 2016–18; Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, 2016–18; Peoria Symphony Orchestra, 2016–18; Chautauqua Music School Festival Orchestra, 2016; Madeline Island Chamber Music Fellowship Program, 2015

What is your earliest memory of classical music? My parents have told me that I came home from preschool and said, “today we listened to this amazing music by Bo-TAY-ven!”

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? When I met Yo-Yo Ma for the first time in high school and he told me, “you have to believe in yourself!”

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century? I think classical music concerts should be more accessible to more people: take down the barriers between performers and audiences, have more affordable ticket options, continue to find new and interesting places to perform, remove the stigma that only a certain type of person can enjoy live classical music—it’s for everyone!

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? This answer is constantly changing, but I keep coming back to Beethoven’s Heiliger Dankgesang, the middle movement of his String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132. This music always finds a way to help or heal when I need it.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? It has been so incredible to be a founding member and organizer of MúsicaOcupa, a chamber music festival that takes place in Quito, Ecuador. The festival brings together local and international musicians to put on spontaneous and planned concerts throughout the city with the purpose of bringing classical music to people who normally wouldn’t be able to experience it. It has been so moving to witness people being moved to tears from hearing classical music for the first time, or to see anti-social children suddenly immersed and friendly, or to really feel that the music we are producing is forming a direct connection with the audience that is listening right in that moment. These are the kinds of connections I play for!

Do you have any embarrassing performance stories? Once while performing Dvořák’s Piano Quintet on a very hot and humid day, the plug at the tip of my bow popped and the hair of my bow exploded everywhere! I had to stop and run to borrow a friend’s bow for the rest of the performance.

What is some advice you would give to your younger self? Own your decisions.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: This might be cliché, but I really could never choose one. I rarely listen to the same thing twice in a short amount of time, and I love random playlists that introduce me to songs I’d never find on my own.

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? French horn

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? Machu Picchu! It was awe-inspiring and humbling; and I really love mountains.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why? Jacqueline DuPre, J.K. Rowling, and my Grandma June—three strong women I admire.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us: I’m a Gryffinclaw 🙂

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Don’t say yes to everything, but be open to the seemingly innocuous engagements that can change your paradigm.