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Meet NZSO National Youth Orchestra Concertmaster Estelita Rae

‘Colourful’ - it’s the word of choice that means the most to Estelita Rae, and it’s clear to see why.

Her bubbly disposition is contagious as she details her busy life as a musician. Not only is the 26-year-old a talented violinist, she’s Concertmaster for the NZSO National Youth Orchestra –or, as Estelita explains, “the first port of call” between the conductor and the Orchestra.

She describes this responsibility as not only about leading and connecting with others. “It’s about getting everyone involved, making sure that everyone has enough space, everyone can see, everyone knows everyone. It’s all about making people feel like they’re part of a team.

“If I’m positive and I’m giving out good vibes, then I feel like that’s the first step to everyone having a good time.”

The Nelson-born musician has played violin seriously since the age of 14. She now leads a packed life doubling as a full-time postgraduate student working towards the completion of her PhD, and as a part-time music teacher - not to mention performing when she can. When asked how she manages to balance her studies and work with the Orchestra alongside her social life, the animated violinist laughs and it’s apparent that a musical life is not one without sacrifice.

Estelita’s minute amount of downtime is often spent placating her artistic side by dabbling with paints and sketching or performing in local gigs. She revels in the excitement of playing in a chamber music group or quartet and her favourite piece to play is Mendelssohn’s String Octet.

One of three musical siblings, the family’s youngest - Lavinnia - also plays cello with the NYO and originally encouraged Estelita to audition. The magic of performing with family means having that added support network as the sisters might catch each other’s eye and “give a little wink” of encouragement during a concert, she says

The 2018 NYO Summer Concerts instalment holds a lot of excitement for Estelita, who has been practicing her part in preparation for the combined rehearsals leading up to opening night.

“This one, most of us [the NYO] would really enjoy. Just because it’s really standard [repertoire]. It’s what, as classical musicians, we grew up practicing.”  - interviewed by Hayley Fordyce


Photo credit - Sarah Watson