Caroline Goulding Takes it all in Stride

Now is a great time to be Caroline Goulding.Caroline Goulding

Never mind that Caroline has been on From the Top’s radio show three times and played with Bela Fleck on the PBS TV series From the Top at Carnegie Hall. Or that at 16, she’s already performed with more than nine orchestras. Or that she plays a Stradivari that is on loan from the Stradivari Society ( and was once owned by Beethoven’s patrons), and her teacher is the famous Paul Kantor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM).

No, that stuff is old news. Right now, it’s great to be Caroline Goulding for a whole new set of reasons.

For starters, her debut album comes out on August 25 – the same day as From the Top at the Pops, on which Caroline is also featured. Her release party, which will celebrate both albums, is at the hip Le Poisson Rouge in New York on September 8th. Over the next year, she’s performing with the Toronto Symphony and making her European Debut with the handsome Umberto Clerici in Spain, playing with the Buffalo Philharmonic (again), and the Asheville Symphony in North Carolina. She’s also going to be a full-time student at CIM in the fall. And her 17th birthday falls just after her album is released!

At a time when so much is going right for Caroline, she spared some time to talk with me about what life is like for a 16-year-old rising violin starlet.

-Lily Kaiser, From the Top intern

From the Top: Let’s talk about your debut album. How did it come to be?

Caroline: I played Souvenir D’Amerique in a concert with the Cleveland Pops two years ago, and someone from Telarc happened to be in the audience.  After the show, he approached us and asked if I would be interested in recording for Telarc sometime in the future.  At that point, we didn’t really realize that Telarc was the record giant that it is so we didn’t pay too much attention.  The following fall, I saw the same person from Telarc at a local concert and the next day, he called my teacher, Paul Kantor, and expressed interest in recording me again.  After realizing what a great opportunity this was, I became very excited.

From the Top: What is recording like?Caroline Goulding

Caroline: I was really nervous before recording, but as soon as I stepped onto the stage of Roush Hall – it was such a beautiful hall – my nerves disappeared and I fell in love with the entire process.  The lights couldn’t be turned on in the hall when recording because they made noise and we also had to take our shoes off which made for a very relaxing environment.  The whole process took three days of recording, and we played for about 8 hours a day.  Recording my debut CD was definitely one of the best experiences of my career.

From the Top: Did recording for the From the Top at the Pops CD feel different?

Caroline: It did feel different because the experience itself was different.  It was a lot of fun and such an honor to record the Mendelssohn Double with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops.  Playing this piece with an orchestra is one of my favorite collaborative experiences and recording it for a record giant like Telarc was especially exciting.  We performed the piece three times throughout the weekend and recorded on Monday.  I will always remember that weekend!

From the Top: Tell me about the release party at Le Poisson Rouge!

Caroline: I’m very excited.  It’s going to be a showcase of my new CD as well as the From the Top at the Pops album that Chris and I recorded the Mendelssohn Double on.  Chris and I are going to play some pieces from my new CD, and I’m playing a piece that was written for me by my friend Stephen Feigenbaum (also featured on From the Top at the Pops), and Ji-Yong another artist featured on the Pops CD is going to play something, so it should be a lot of fun!

From the Top: You’ve often collaborated with Christopher O’Riley. How did you build a relationship with him?

Caroline GouldingCaroline: From being on From the Top, obviously! I love From the Top.  I first met Chris on the show when I was thirteen and then had the opportunity to collaborate with him for other From the Top events after that.  Chris and I were scheduled to play the Mendelssohn Double Concerto with a few orchestras and when I found out about the CD offer, I suggested that we collaborate on the album.  Everyone agreed that having him play on the album would be the smartest, not to mention most convenient choice, not only because he is a great pianist, but also because he lived in Cleveland.

From the Top: Your career is taking off so early and it’s really exciting. What do you do to stay grounded?

Caroline: My family plays a big role in keeping me grounded.  I have two older brothers who played saxophone and trumpet in high school and also enjoyed other activities and sports as well.  My parents, being special education teachers, are big advocators of the importance of education.  I just graduated from Gilmour Academy,  a private school in Gates Mills, Ohio.  Although it was difficult balancing my performance schedule with my academic schedule, it’s rewarding to know that I succeeded.

Want to hear more from Caroline? Check out this video.