Violinist Caroline Goulding has a history with Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, albeit a brief one.
"I think I first played it when I was 13," Goulding, now 21, says. "It was always one of those pieces that I look at as this epic of the violin world."
Preparing to play the concerto during the Lexington Philharmonic's season-opening concert on Friday at the Singletary Center for the Arts, Goulding has been studying her history as well as the score. She says she has come to appreciate the circumstances of its composition during a time of personal turmoil for Tchaikovsky and his influences in and outside of Russia.
"You have all these Russian composers at the time, and though he was obviously influenced by them, he was also innovative and had his own voice," Goulding says. "He wasn't just limited to other Russian composers. He was influenced by French music, he loved Mozart, and you hear this in his music, especially in the violin concerto."
Goulding has developed her own voice, too, after a little nudging from her older brothers.
As a toddler, she would crash her brothers' trumpet and saxophone practices. Soon, they suggested to their mother that maybe little Caroline should have her own instrument so she would stop bothering them.
"It was very organic from there," Goulding says. "I just loved it."
There was no revelatory moment when she decided she would become a professional violinist. Goulding says she never really considered doing anything else.
"I just never really asked that question of myself, and people around me never asked that question," she says.
There has been plenty of affirmation that she made the right choice, including a prestigious Avery Fisher career grant and a Grammy Award nomination for her first album.
Remember, she just turned 21.
She also has performed around the world in recital at venues including New York's Carnegie Hall, Washington's Kennedy Center and Beijing's Forbidden City Concert Hall, and with some of the top orchestras in North America including the Cleveland Orchestra and Houston Symphony. She has played with the Louisville Orchestra, but Friday will be her first appearance in Central Kentucky.
Goulding has been around the block with the Tchaikovsky concerto, but it's hardly old hat. She says eight years have helped her gain perspective on the piece.
"It's amazing to see the different lens I am looking at this piece through," she says. "I see it as more operatic, and it's a feeling that I've had more life. In 10 years, I'll laugh at myself for saying that."
IF YOU GO
What: Season-opening concert with conductor Scott Terrell, violin soloist Caroline Goulding and American Symphony by composer-in-residence Adam Schoenberg
When: 7:30 Sept. 20
Where: UK Singletary Center for the Arts, 401 Rose St.
Tickets: $20-$70. Available at Philharmonic offices in ArtsPlace, 161 N. Mill St., fourth floor; (859) 233-4226; or Lexphil.org..