Violinist Heather MacArthur
What do you call your hometown?
I was actually born in Albuquerque! But my family moved to a very small city called Ridgecrest/ China Lake Naval Base in the high desert of Southern California when I was still very young, so I don’t have too many memories of life in New Mexico. My parents always remembered it fondly to me, however, and I grew up eating lots of green chiles and pecans! It is so funny how life often comes around full circle, and I am delighted to be spending more time in Albuquerque again. There is something about Albuquerque specifically and New Mexico in general that truly feels like home.
At what age did you start playing your instrument?
I started playing the violin at age 4, when my parents gave me a violin and violin lessons as a Christmas present.
What is one of your favorite orchestral pieces and why?
Mahler symphonies are definitely very high on that list of favorites. They are so rich and lush. I love their whimsical Viennese qualities. I love how big an orchestra is required for performing them. It is hard to pick a favorite, and for that I think we are extremely lucky!
What are your hobbies, other than playing?
I enjoy weightlifting, crossfit, cycling, running, hiking, pretty much anything that gets me active, especially outdoors!
Describe one of your most life-changing musical moments!
Well, there are of course many. I think there need to be many. Being a musician is a matter of constantly learning and growing and inspiring and being inspired over the course of your entire life. Instead of mentioning memorable jaw-dropping performances I attended, though, I might focus on the technical and mundane here!
This might sound silly and not the answer people are looking for, but honestly, learning how to play at a much more steady tempo was a big breakthrough for me. It was not something I learned until I had taken many unsuccessful auditions and I realized I was never going to win a job until I learned how to do that. Likewise, learning to prioritize playing with great intonation was a game changer! I spent months and months a couple years back just spending hours a day on scales and arpeggios. Obviously, there is always room for improvement, but those stand out as life-changing moments. The artistic and emotional power we want to express as performers cannot be there without solid technique underlying everything!
What would you say to someone who has never been to a classical music performance before?
I would suggest they go of course! With an open and eager mind.
What is one thing that inspired you/Who is one person who inspires you?
Great conductors inspire me with their knowledge, charisma, energy, and ability to unite with a powerful and singular vision; great soloists inspire me with their skill and artistry and time put into becoming the best in their field. Not that I am a composer, but composers inspire me, and I am in awe of composers past and present who give us music to listen to and perform. However, probably what inspires me the most is knowing the audience is moved and deeply grateful to have heard a performance. That inspires me to know there is something beautiful and human and necessary in what we as performing musicians do and makes me what to develop and grow into the best possible performer I can be.
Where is your favorite place you have ever traveled to? Why?
Costa Rica is one of my favorite places. There is a calmness and peacefulness there, in part due perhaps to their emphasis on eco-friendly tourism, sustainability, and progressive environmental policies. It is also the only place I’ve ever surfed or seen a sloth in the wild. 🙂