Erica Kiesewetter, NEPA Philharmonic Concertmaster

Erica Kiesewetter, NEPA Philharmonic Concertmaster

This weekend, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, under the direction of Maestro Lawrence Loh, is doing music just right.


Enchanting, euphoric, and dare we say, exotic music, brought to you by NEPA’s only professional string section.

All strings.

All night long.

Because really, what else is there?

Speaking of exotic, did we mention that the fabulous Erica Kiesewetter, NEPA Phil concertmaster, is taking you to Buenos Aires in her tango dress? Did we also mention that we have an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with the fiddlin’ femme to share with you?

But first, the concert details…

NEPA Philharmonic Stringfest 2014

WHO: The Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic

WHAT: Stringfest 2014


  • Saturday, March 8, 2014 @ 8:00 p.m.
  • Pre-Concert Lecture @ 7:00 p.m. in the Gallery

WHERE: F.M. Kirby Center, Wilkes Barre


  • Piazzolla: Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
    • Erica Kiesewetter, violin
  • Higdon: Amazing Grace
  • Elgar: Serenade for Strings
  • Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings


Valenches Music Company Exclusive Ticket Price

Because we’re all things strings, we don’t want you to miss this concert! We’ve partnered with the NEPA Philharmonic to bring you an offer you can’t refuse…


That’s right! Tickets are normally $25-60 but as fellow string lovers and friends of the Valenches Music Company, all you have to do is:

  • Call SANDY at the Philharmonic Office: (570) 270 – 4444
  • Ask for your Valenches Music Company $15 tickets (subject to availability)

We know you love great music so don’t pass up this opportunity!

Still Undecided?


Let the magic of Erica Kiesewetter sweep you away! She took some time out of her finger-smoking practice sessions this week to answer a few questions for us to share with you!

VMC Interview Exclusive: Erica Kiesewetter

There’s no doubt that you’re a highly accomplished violinist. How did it all get started and what inspired you to begin playing the violin?

My mother took my to concerts since I was about three years old and we always sat on the “violin side” as she called it. I fell in love with the sound and begged for lessons, but we couldn’t find a teacher back in those days who would take me, so I finally started piano at 5, and violin at 7. Years later, I found out that my mother’s step-sister was given a violin, but my mother never had lessons herself, so I lived out her life dream without knowing it.

When did you know that playing the violin was more than just a hobby for you and that you wanted to play professionally? 

When I was 11 my parents bought me a Juzek violin, but I had to go away to a Girl Scout sleep-away camp for two weeks right after. I missed the violin so so much!

Once you made the decision to play professionally, what changed about your practicing?

Honestly, I did not become a practice-aholic until I turned 15 and auditioned for the great teacher, Ivan Galamian. I went a bit nuts and tried to practice 5 hours a day, and promised to make it up if I forgot. Unfortunately, that first week, I did forget, and practiced 17 hours in a row to make up for my lapse — not a good idea. I could not even hold the violin up the next day. Eventually, I learned that consistency is the secret, a little (or a lot) every day, and being smart, attentive and creative while practicing is how to make progress. And having your goals very clear in your mind’s ear. And being infinitely patient!

How important is it to you that you practice?

I practice every day, even if it means getting up very early, and I always get to rehearsals early to warm up. Over the years, I have learned to love being alone with my friend the violin. I try to please it every day!

Do you ever have days where your hands just don’t feel right, like in the frigid weather we’re having now and how do you deal with it?

I am very sensitive to the cold, so I wear hand warmers, and many layers, and sometimes do a little aerobic exercise with my arms and stretches before I play.

You’re very calm while performing. Do you ever have to deal with stage fright and if so, are there any secrets you’d like to share? 

Actually, I think a lot about performance anxiety and in fact do workshops to help with this. There is a lot to say about it, but the best thing is to perform a lot so you get very comfortable in front of people. And remember, we ALL make mistakes! I dare you to find some in my performance! The truth is, when the audience is listening, they are carried away by the beauty of the music and don’t care about the little things we worry about. So, enjoy!

It’s exhausting to read your bio with the number of things you do and have achieved. How do you keep up with everything and how does a day in your life look?

It depends on the day. Some days, I get up at 6:30, warm up at 7:30, drive at 8:00 to NYC for a rehearsal where I warm up at 9:30, rehearse 10-1 with the American Symphony, then drive 2 hours, teach a few hours, coach the orchestra, go to my apartment and return emails, etc. But somedays are very easy and I can practice a few hours with no distraction. I love that. The hardest years were when I was raising my two children. Some of your parents will probably remember seeing them at many NEPA Philharmonic concerts as they always traveled with me.

What advice can you give young students aspiring to be good violinists? 

Listen to a lot of violin playing on YouTube, CD’s and in person so you get a sound in your ear. Listen to what the Valenches’ tell you to do, and practice regularly.

This weekend, you’ll be performing The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla. Tell us about this piece. 

The piece was written by this wonderful Argentine bandoneon player (kind of like an accordion). He developed a style of music which is a fusion of traditional tango, jazz, and classical. The piece is very exotic, full of dance rhythms and heartfelt melodies.

This piece is definitely not what we’re used to hearing in standard violin repertoire. What would you like to tell the audience?

Enjoy the piece! There are wonderful special effects that reproduce certain aspects of tango music, but you don’t need to know a thing to get swept away by the power and emotion of piece.

We’ve heard rumors that there’s a tango dress that might make an appearance this weekend. True? 

Well, the red one didn’t fit, but…

Thank you Erica for taking the time to talk with us! 

Now what are you waiting for?

Call the Philharmonic office and get your $15 tickets! (570) 270 – 4444