The Glory of It All

By Schreil, Cristina | Strings, March 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Glory of It All


Schreil, Cristina, Strings


It's Caroline Goulding's third day as a New Yorker. As rain falls outside her new home on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the 23-year-old violinist brings a bit of George Enescu into her morning routine.

But, the accomplished performer isn't playing-she is reading.

"When we are children, our parents give us a circle to play with. When we are grown up, a woman gives us a ring," Goulding quotes Enescu aloud, her already sparkling energy building through the phone as she continues. "Ts there anything beyond glory? I said no-N-O, exclamation point!-glory is nothing that is beyond the beauty, the emotion, the selfless joy of being part of all of this.'"

She tells me she happened to look at the passage just minutes before our call. We'd been scheduled to chat about her upcoming album featuring Enescu's Impressions d'enfance, and something "clicked" with her.

"That gave me goose bumps, because it sums up what he was about, but it also sums up what music is about, for me at least," she explains. She adds that through the music, one can see these images of the world through Enescu's younger eyes, which he revisits as an older man. "Glory, I guess, is a word that I've been attracted to lately and have come to a new level of understanding."

For many it may click that Goulding would have a lot to say about the intersection of glory and childhood. After all, she began studying violin at three-and-a-half in her native Ohio, released her first Grammy-nominated album at age 16, and received an Avery Fisher Career Grant a year later. But her approach to the topic is delicate and humble. She seems levelheaded, taking quick moments to meditate on questions before unleashing long insights. This air of modesty especially emerges when asked where she sees herself in ten years.

"It's a question isn't it?" she muses. "It's a question and it remains unanswerable. One does not know. I love to do what I'm doing. I'm so passionate about it." She pauses, as if mulling it over while forming her words. "I feel at this stage of life-I am who I am."

Goulding describes herself as being in an "exploratory" stage. Little details she shares seem to back it up. She's just moved from Boston to New York, a city that she's traveled to many times over the years and one she says always felt like home. The relocation will allow her to jet more easily to Europe and other parts of the globe, where she'll spend a good chunk of the next year performing. She recently cropped her blonde hair short. She adds that she sees the lives of friends in their 20s and 30s orbit more around change and establishing new paths, things that have sparked reflection in the past year and a half.

"You go to school, you become an adult, you need to find a job. There are many things that are happening in your life," Goulding begins. "I've taken into consideration how much I appreciate what I do and I don't take for granted anymore that I'm able to wake up every day and do something I'm passionate about in a world where people don't necessarily get to do that." She clarifies there wasn't necessarily a time when she took her career or success for granted-she's just gained a deeper appreciation as she's made more acquaintances, some with lives that don't satisfy them.

"It's really just talking to other people and seeing what I've done for so long and knowing that life is about this glory thing, a happiness," Goulding says.

She says that life does have its challenges. "And I've definitely faced them, but it's also about approaching what you do with that level of glory and it's about the eyes that you see through, not necessarily what you're doing. That makes a difference." I ask if this new wisdom and perspective coinciding with her new album is a statement on her adulthood, considering many fans first noticed her when she was accomplishing so much at such a young age. Not so, she insists.

"I'm saying I'm a human being. Period. I'm not labeling myself and that's the point I'm trying to make," Goulding says firmly, then muses that even when she's 50, she'll still consider herself a non-expert. …

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