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A Musical Life: Quinn Lake

Tobias Brier

Quinn Lake is a Wichita-based cellist. She performs with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and the ICT Trio. She has performed in orchestras around the U.S. and has made appearances nationally as a soloist, chamber musician, and as an instructor at music festivals. She studied at the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin; at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria; and at Wichita State University's School of Music. In addition to her Classical music pursuits, she often performs with bands of a variety of styles and is interested in improvisation.

My name is Quinn Lake. I am a cellist. I play with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and I also run a private music studio where I have about 35 students. I do a lot of freelancing around town where I play all kinds of different music.

As an instrumentalist in a symphony orchestra, you are really a cell in an organ that is part of a great organism. As part of the cello section you really have to abandon any ego that you have and be part of the flow of the whole section. As soon as the section is working together then you have to think about being part of the greater organism of the orchestra. And the brain of that orchestra is the conductor. And when it’s all working together, there’s really nothing like it, to be in the middle of that. Everybody’s moving together all around you and working together in harmony. It really does feel like a living being.

Having a beginner’s mind is the only way that you can learn. Really, by abandoning all pre-existing notions that you might have about how things work because chances are there’s another way to do it and you have to be open and curious about those other ways.

There’s really no feeling in the world like being one with your instrument. There really is a unity that comes as you grow as an instrumentalist between your physical body and your instrument. And then, also beyond that, your mind and your emotions; as you grow there starts to be no boundary between your idea and the physical body and your instrument and your bow.

And the bow stars to feel like an extension of your own hand. And you’re so in touch with the weight and its shape and its size and the way it behaves that you can’t perceive a difference between the bow and your hand.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.