Arts & Culture News

Woman Crush Wednesday: Violinist Lydia Umlauf

Lydia Umlauf can't even take a selfie without her violin.
Lydia Umlauf can't even take a selfie without her violin. Lydia Umlauf
Let us belatedly celebrate International Women's Day by introducing you to a truly admirable woman. Our crush this week is Lydia Umlauf, second chair violinist at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The accomplished musician is set on making classical music cool again, and we are happy to listen. With her project Mozart at the Bar, Umlauf brings high culture to the drunkest of us. She's as stylish as she's adventurous, and she's a Lord of the Rings, Star Wars geek, too. Here's why we love her.

What’s one rule you don’t subscribe to?
Going the speed limit. (Just kidding, drive safe out there!) Probably the rule that success happens from the same kind of work ethic/schedule. … We all have the freedom to figure out how and when our best productivity happens.

Do you have any theories that don’t necessarily hold up but you believe anyway?
The zombie apocalypse will probably happen someday.

What impresses you?
People who are comfortable with themselves.

Tell me your favorite personal tradition.
Traveling somewhere new every summer.

What’s one song everyone loves that you can’t stand?
"O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, without a doubt.

What’s a subject you hope comes up in conversation because you have so much to say about it?
Well, I tend to just bring up things I want to talk about, but I love Lord of the Rings a lot and am always willing to discuss Tolkien at length.
click to enlarge The sunny Umlauf - RICO STUDIOS
The sunny Umlauf
Rico Studios
What project are you most excited about right now?
I’m very excited about my concert series Mozart in the Bar. We’ve had several successful concerts recently and I love being able to bring the music I love to anyone and everyone that wants to hear it!

Who’s your woman crush in the arts?
Sarah Jaffe is definitely a crush of mine — beautiful musician and incredibly funny — as well as Hilary Hahn, the violinist. I’ve always loved her playing.

Describe your personality in one album and one fictional character.
Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago because we all have a little bit of melancholy and hope at the same time.
Wonder Woman, duh.

What's your oddest habit?

Twisting my hair … constantly.

Do you have any unpopular opinions?
Star Wars is better than Star Trek.

If you could go anywhere across time and space, where and when would you go?
The future when interplanetary travel is possible. Also I would love to visit ancient Greece to hear Socrates wax eloquent and then to attend the first Olympic games.

What was happening the last time you felt like your life was incredible?
My life is pretty incredible right now, and I’m very grateful. But if I were to choose one moment that was incredible in my life, it would be the day I took an audition for the Dallas Symphony six years ago and was offered a position in the second violin section.

What would someone assume about your personal life if they went through your internet search history?
That I struggle with acne sometimes and love to research the enneagram.

What are some things you do that make you feel like a good citizen?
Hosting free classical music concerts in bars!

Finish the sentence: You know you’re my friend if I ...
Make fun of you. I also make fun of myself sometimes, too.

What’s one book you wish you could go back and read for the first time?
Harry Potter. All seven. Maybe also 1Q84 by Murakami.

What’s your biggest cause?
Mozart in the Bar! Getting everyone to agree that classical music is cool.

Name the smallest thing that makes you happy.
Tea and candles and palo santo.

What’s something you’ve been told about yourself that made you laugh?
That I’m hard to read (this was told to me by a dear friend and I only laugh because I feel like I wear my emotions all over my face).

Can you recommend a classical composition for an emo mood? What about one that pairs well with ecstatic joy?
Chopin’s Nocturnes for solo piano and the last movement of Bruckner’s 8th Symphony.

What are some unusual things that you've seen happen at concerts?
Well, I almost threw up on stage at an orchestra concert in Germany several years ago from eating too many coconut cakes.

When are you truly satisfied with your day?
When I accomplish small goals that I set for myself and strengthen healthy everyday habits. Also, when I am able to eat dumplings of any kind.

What makes you feel like you’re an old soul?
I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere and was home-schooled so I had a lot of time to myself. I read a lot of books and watched a lot of old movies and developed an overactive imagination.

And what makes you think you’ll never grow up?
I like to dance and laugh. Hopefully, I’ll be doing that forever.

What question do you love to be asked?
"Do you want to go skydiving?"

And what’s the answer?
click to enlarge Umlauf hosts free classical shows at bars. - RICO STUDIOS
Umlauf hosts free classical shows at bars.
Rico Studios
click to enlarge Umlauf at her 9-5. - RICO STUDIOS
Umlauf at her 9-5.
Rico Studios
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Eva Raggio is the Dallas Observer's music and arts editor, a job she took after several years of writing about local culture and music for the paper. Eva supports the arts by rarely asking to be put on "the list" and always replies to emails, unless the word "pimp" makes up part of the artist's name.
Contact: Eva Raggio