Melissa Trier Kirk, Viola
Hometown: Evanston, Illinois
Joined Lyric Orchestra in 1982
Education: Northwestern University
Was there a specific moment or experience during which you first connected with your instrument or with opera in general?
My father was a music teacher. When I was seven, he wrote a musical adaptation for our family based on the story of “The Three Bears”. We performed this “mini opera” many times for schools and community centers and even ended up appearing on the Lee Phillip Show on WBBM. It was loads of fun! This was the first of many operas my father wrote for us to perform and these family musical experiences connected me to the joy of making music and ultimately led me to pursue my career as a violist.
With which other orchestra/s have you performed, either as a member or as a soloist? Please tell the years you performed or memorable experiences you had.
I began my career as Principal Violist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. I was happy to win a job right out of college. In my first season, I performed Hindemith’s “Der Schwanendreher," the concerto I would later play as part of my Lyric Opera audition. In addition to Lyric, I play with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra during the summer. The two schedules dovetail beautifully and my family has enjoyed living in both places.
What was the scariest thing that ever happened to you in the pit?
Playing the viola d’amore solos in Janacek’s Makropulos Affair. I was switching back and forth between viola and viola d’amore with Maestro Bartoletti at the helm. The viola has four strings and the d’amore has seven fingered and seven sympathetic strings. Keeping everything in tune was a challenge!
Outside of the pit, I like to:
My husband (Lyric Opera Assistant Principal Bassoonist Lewis Kirk) and I have two college aged daughters. Together we enjoy exploring the great outdoors, hiking in New Mexico, cross-country skiing in Wisconsin and traveling together whenever the schedules line up. Every Christmas we put together a family music program for area nursing homes.