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What’s your favourite thing to do off stage?
I love to cook. I adore cooking for the family. I must admit though, going to restaurants is more my thing.

Living in South Melbourne it must be so easy to get stuck in your own little bubble. What’s your go-to restaurant in South Melbourne?
Hands down, Hands down, Park Street Pasta and Wine. Whenever I get a weekend off, or don’t have to be up early for rehearsal I’ll grab some friends, and we’ll head there for the evening.

Are you Melbourne originally?
I’m from Sydney actually. I was doing a fellowship with Sydney Symphony in 2006 before making the move.

What exactly is a fellowship?
Think of it like a bridging course. It’s a stepping stone in a musician’s professional development and you get given some intensive training. Damo and Stevie from the bass section here did the fellowship with me, and then the three of us all got our jobs here within two weeks of each other!

Within two weeks?! Who got offered their job first?
Damo and Stevie both had their auditions two weeks before me, and when they were both accepted I thought “Gah! The pressure is on now!” but then I got accepted as well so it was all OK in the end… 12 years later I’m still here!

Twelve years?! You must have some crazy international touring stories…
I’ve done a lot of touring, but my favourite was in 2015. I went to India with AWO(Australian World Orchestra). One of the places we performed in was an old stadium and they literally put the stage up in the afternoon ready for us to perform that night. It looked like this industrial wasteland. We also had Don Bradman’s granddaughter performing with us, so you can imagine how many cricket fans we had in the crowd!

Let’s talk about your viola. How old were you when you first began to play?
I actually started on violin when I was five or six.

Why did you transition between instruments?
One day I had the chance to play a viola and just absolutely fell in love with the sound. It’s mellow… less stressful! I got my current viola in 2004. It does everything. It can be loud if I need it to be, but it’s also got this great mellow sound. Plus it didn’t cost the earth!

What’s your all-time favourite piece to perform?
I love to perform Rachmaninov’s second symphony… It’s such a party piece! The audience love it. Plus, it’s a really fun viola part.

From Rach to rumours… I hear a rumour that you were the one to start the MSO’s Facebook and Twitter?!
Yes… That was me! I think it was about 2010. Facebook was still very new, and Twitter was slowly taking off. I was really keen to get us up and running on Facebook, but it was before anyone knew how big it would be. I had some chats with people around the place and kept being told “do it… but don’t tell anyone it was you!”

It was a bit naughty, but I eventually got it going. Our Facebook got to over 1,000 followers in the first month which in that stage was a struggle. Eventually it got too much and I handed it over to the professionals!

It’s almost time for school pick up. Anything else you want people to know about you?
… I’m looking for a shoe sponsor! Ha! I’m always searching for the perfect pair of shoes. I have two prerequisites, they have to be high and they have to be black. Back in the day the violas sat on the edge of the stage, so I’d always wear a nice shoe for those lucky people in the front row, and I’m always looking for more!

Lauren’s chair is supported by Mr Tam Vu and Dr Cherilyn Tillman. Want to support Lauren on her quest to find the perfect pair of shoes? Click here to find out more about MSO’s Adopt a Musician program!

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