Musical Aspirations: An Interview with Anthony Kaskurs

Throughout our lives, we all set goals for ourselves, and endeavor to fulfill our dreams. As children, our minds expand with each new experience and we are filled to the brim with desires and ambitions. As we grow up, our interests constantly shift, yet some of our earliest passions linger and shine out among the rest. These passions remain with us for the entirety of our lives and serve as our motivation, solace, and source of pride. For Anthony Kaskurs, a junior at Orcas Island High School, this passion is music.

Image Credit: Laurie Mayhew

Anthony began playing the guitar before the age of five. He had always been fascinated by music, and loved being able to play and compose small pieces on his own. He soon took up playing the piano, and continued for several years. However, when he was six years old, Anthony made an acquaintance that would change his life forever. A family friend that was staying at his home introduced him to the cello, and Anthony instantly fell in love with the instrument. He has been playing ever since.

Anthony joined his first strings ensemble in the second grade, and quickly excelled. He loved participating in strings, and playing music became a release and greatly anticipated break during the long monotonous school day. In middle school, he moved to Orcas Island and joined the middle school strings ensemble. Here, his conductor Pamela Wright challenged him to reach his full potential through her discipline and nurturing instruction. When asked what motivated him to practice cello as a child, Anthony laughed. “I’m very competitive and always wanted to do my best. Once, during a chair competition, I was placed in the second chair. This really prompted me to practice more and play better.” Rather than becoming discouraged because he was placed in second chair, Anthony’s competitive spirit propelled him to try harder and achieve more. He worked hard to view negative criticism as an opportunity to improve, rather than as a sign of defeat. This mindset not only helped Anthony to earn the position of the first chair cellist, but also to surpass the expectations of his teachers and mentors, and to transcend challenges and limitations.

Currently, Anthony plays in the High School Strings Ensemble and in the High School Orchestra. He has been playing for ten years and continues to remain passionate about his playing. He loves performing in competitions, and has also played in weddings, and in the Island Symphonia. Since middle school, Anthony has taken his musical experience to a whole new level. “Sometimes when I have free time, I like to compose small pieces of music for fun,” He confessed. When asked who his greatest musical inspiration is, he responded that, “My favorite composer is probable Claude Debussy, the composer of ‘Clair de Lune’. His music is so beautiful.” Anthony hopes to communicate the emotion of Debussy’s work in his own work and performances.

Image Credit: Keith Light

Image Credit: Keith Light

After years of experience, Anthony’s proudest moment as a musician was being placed as the second chair of the Northwest Honor Orchestra. “This is a huge accomplishment because the Northwest Honors Orchestra is a large gathering of high school musicians from all over the northwest region.” Anthony loved participating in the Honors Orchestra because it gave him an opportunity to showcase his immense skills, and to meet other young and talented musicians living in the northwest. “Being a student musician is very challenging,” Anthony explained, “It is extremely hard to balance school work and practice, and it can be hard to find time to play pieces that I want to learn. However, I am committed to both my classes and my music, so I struggle to find that balance.”

Anthony hopes to continue expanding his musical skills throughout his entire life. He plans on joining strings groups during college and in his community later on. “Music brings so much to my life. I have made some of my best friends and met my greatest inspirations through music. Music also helps me gets through the trials of high school life.” Anthony wishes to inspire other young musicians in the hope that they will enjoy music as much as he has and discover its many benefits. His final words of advice for aspiring musicians are that “There will always be new challenges for you no matter what your passion is. There will always be someone better than you, but don’t let these things discourage you. Use this knowledge to motivate yourself and strive for greater things.”