Meet TSO Violinist Laura Hourt and Violist Kimberly Hankins

by Tucson Symphony
Meet TSO Violinist Laura Hourt and Violist Kimberly Hankins

At what age did you start playing music and what was your first instrument?

Laura: I began with the violin in 4th grade at age nine, and I’m still playing today! 

Kimberly: I started with the piano in 2nd grade, and I started violin in 4th grade. I played percussion for a short time in high school and took up the viola in my senior year.

What/who inspired you to pursue music professionally?

Laura: Just the love of music and how happy I felt when I was playing. 

Kimberly: My local youth orchestra is where I fell in love with music – shoutout to the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra! I remember my very first rehearsal, sitting in the back of the second violins and struggling to keep up with the notes and what was happening around me. It was a huge motivation for me to practice, and eventually I worked my way up to the top orchestra. As a high schooler, getting to perform symphonies by Glazunov and Sibelius alongside other young musicians was incredibly inspiring. I felt like I had found my community, and I knew I wanted orchestra always to be a part of my life.

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever received?

Laura: Play it like you mean it!

Kimberly: When I studied with Masumi Rostad, he told me never to give up on creating my ideal sound. I think about that often when I’m preparing a piece of music. I spend a lot of time thinking about sound and the acoustics of every space I play in, and always searching for my ideal sound has made me think about projection and music-making in a completely different way.

What do you love about the violin/viola in general and your instrument in particular?

Laura: I love the timbre of the violin.  I also like being part of a large section of the orchestra.  Having a ton of repertoire, including solo literature and smaller ensembles, always keeps playing the violin interesting.   As for my own instrument, I enjoy the very round, warm sound it has – I have found strings that complement the evenness of the timbre the violin provides. 

Kimberly: What I love most about the viola is the wide range of sounds it can create. Out of the string instruments, I think the viola has some of the most amazing colors of sound, and I really enjoy the chamber and orchestral music that was written for the viola.

Which concert have you enjoyed the most this season? Which upcoming concert are you most looking forward to?

Laura: I super enjoyed the Masterworks concert with Appalachian Spring and Barber’s Symphony #1 – so musically exciting and inspiring!!  I am most looking forward to the Holst Planets concert – that is one of my favorite pieces of all time, but I am also looking forward to the Verdi Requiem as it has the bass drum part I would pay to play!

Kimberly: My favorite concert so far was the Mainly Mozart Masterworks Concert. It was such a treat to work with members of the Harlem Quartet, Ilmar Gavilán and Jaime Amador, and the Sinfonia Concertante is one of my favorite pieces. The Brahms-Haydn Variations are always so much fun to play.

What is your favorite thing about Tucson?

Laura: I like Tucson because it supports numerous cultural events year-round. I also like the warmth and consistent sunshine – it lets me be outdoors and play tennis as much as possible.

Kimberly: As a University of Arizona grad (class of 2011), playing with TSO has felt a lot like coming home. Having this opportunity to reconnect and make music with my old friends has brought me so much joy.