Kiya van der Linden-Kian is an arts administrator and music educator with a passion for audience engagement and creating sustainable pathways for the arts. He has worked with music education programs across Melbourne, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s The Pizzicato Effect and Musica Viva. Kiya also works as a cellist and performer with a number of ensembles around Melbourne. 

AYO Words About Music participant Kiya van der Linden-Kian

Q: What made you decide that you wanted a life in music? Was there a particular moment (an epiphany, if you like) that led you to this decision, or was the process more gradual? 

A: I think for most people their influential experiences come from other people. This was the case with me. When I was in Year 5 I was visiting a family friend’s house. He happened to be playing the cello at that time. I got to sit down to  try playing a few notes and was absolutely transfixed. It was a goal of mine to pursue a career in music from that moment. The crazy coincidence about this is that the family friend was in a Steiner school program, and the cello was just one of a series of instruments he got to try. If I had gone to his house a little earlier or later, I may have missed the cello entirely! 

Q: What sort of working life in the profession are you aiming for? Do you have a picture of what you’d like to be doing in the short term? And beyond that? Has the pandemic affected the decisions you’ve made? 

A: We have spent a lot of time in this course talking about having a portfolio career and the more I think about it, the more I am drawn to this possibility. I think when you work in the arts you kind of have to try a bit of everything in order to make something of yourself. I also think that, given the times we live in and the incredible amount of exposure we have to different aspects of music, it is incredibly important to experiment with multiple things to inform your artistic practice. Personally, my ideal career involves a little performing, some teaching, and a lot of creative problem-solving about some of the challenges in the industry. 

COVID of course has upended all my plans, as it has for most people. I was due to move overseas at the end of 2020 and even had some Masters programs in my sights. The pandemic has certainly shifted my timeline, but my overall goal of moving overseas in the next little while remains the same. After taking some time to adjust to this new reality, I have ended up working with some fantastic classical music organisations in Melbourne and feel very lucky about my current circumstances. 

Q:Can you tell me about one of your favourite classical pieces, in your capacities as performer and/or listener? Can you tell me why you love this music so much? (You’re allowed to choose more than one piece!) 

A: I often listen to classical music when I feel the need to process complex emotions. This often means I end up going for pieces with complex textures and more often than not, find myself listening to a symphony of some kind. If I want to shut myself off from the world and have ‘a moment’, nothing does that more for me than Mahler’s 1st Symphony. The layered A’s in the opening slowly give way to a more complicated melody that ebbs and flows around the listener and takes them on a journey. 

I had the great privilege of playing this piece with the Melbourne Youth Orchestra on a tour to Christchurch with Ben Northey conducting, and that still remains in my mind as one of my top musical experiences. 

Q: What kind of role do you think the virtual space will play in the world of professional music-making in the next few years? 

A: There has been a lot of talk in the last 18 months or so about the importance of the virtual space and how it needs to be embraced in order for arts organisations to survive. I agree for the most part that an acknowledgment and investment in the virtual space has interesting, and potentially even life-saving, implications for the artform, but I would like to see it taken one step further. The live in-concert experience is so essential to music-making and listening that a future where the entirety of music making is shifted online (despite what the past 18 months have been like) would, I think,  be a disservice to the artform. I am hoping the surge of goodwill behind the importance of the virtual music-making space will see an in-kind surge of live performance and a consolidation of what makes a concert experience truly great. 

Kiya van der Linden-Kian is an alumnus of the Words About Music program, AYO National Music Camp 2021.