The ACO asked principal second violinist, Dina Kostic to share a bit about her life as musician. Learn more about how Dina started her career, what a day in her life is like, and a favorite memory with our orchestra.
Where were you born?
I was born in Belgrade, Serbia (former Yugoslavia). I lived there for the first 15 years of my life.
Where have you played prior to joining the ACO?
Prior to joining the ACO, I played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, while earning my Masters at Northwestern University and free-lancing. I came to South Florida as a fellow at New World Symphony and subsequently won a job with the Florida Philharmonic. Unfortunately, my orchestra went bankrupt, despite being the biggest arts organization in the state of Florida at the time.
Where else do you play when not with the ACO?
In addition to playing with the ACO, I am currently Principal Second with Miami City Ballet’s Opus One Orchestra, Principal Second with Nu Deco Ensemble, Assistant Concertmaster with The Symphonia Boca Raton, section First Violin with the Palm Beach Opera, in addition to regularly substituting with Naples Philharmonic, Sarasota Orchestra, and Minnesota Orchestra, among others. I play in the pit for Broadway Across America whenever the schedule allows, play chamber music with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival and Paradigm Trio, in addition to maintaining my studio at Barry University.
How long have you been with the ACO?
I have been with the ACO since 2008.
What is your earliest memory of music in your life?
I was born into a family of musicians, so my first memory was sitting on a piano bench with my grandpa, singing along to the songs he was playing. I was probably three years old.
Who or what is the reason that led you to become a career musician?
It was a really natural progression for me. It started out as just fun. I remember being nudged to practice, but never pushed. For a long time, it was just something that came so naturally to me, and I seemed to be pretty good at it. Despite earning top prizes in competitions while in school, I never thrived on competing with others, but once I started playing in chamber orchestra around 13 or 14, I knew I’d found my place. I loved the teamwork that it required. Everyone was valuable as an individual, but you had to have a common goal in order for the product to be really great. It got even more exciting playing in big orchestras. Most people think they are settling for an orchestral job if their solo career doesn’t take off. For me, orchestra was always the goal. I love figuring out how best to serve the team.
What is your primary job as a principal musician?
As principal, my job is to make sure that the technical choices such as bowings and stroke selection match the artistic guidance we are getting from the Music Director. I have to coordinate with the Concertmaster and the other string principals, and in a perfect world, if our sections follow our lead, it gets the whole string section on the same page, sounding really cohesive. I try to be as helpful to my section as possible, and to lead effectively. I believe leadership is about empowering your section to bring their most inspired musicianship to our performances.
How often do you play/practice daily or weekly?
I practice/play in rehearsals or performances every day for anywhere from 3 to 10 hours. I like to take some time off in the summers, if my schedule permits.
Do you play different instruments within the orchestra?
I stick with the violin. I played the piano for a few years when I was young, and picked it back up in college for a bit. My first performances were actually with a children’s choir “Kolibri” from age 4-12. We recorded 20 children’s shows for television in which I was featured as a soloist and actor. When I was 6 years old, I was chosen to represent my country at a popular Italian singing festival Zecchino D’Oro in Bologna. I had to learn to sing three verses in Italian, and was accompanied by an Italian children’s choir. It was broadcasted on Italian TV, recorded on an LP, and can now be found on YouTube, like all things.
What is your favorite piece or composer and why?
It fluctuates constantly. I am drawn to the big orchestral sound in Strauss tone poems, Mahler, Bruckner, Prokofiev Symphonies, etc. However, every time I play a piano trio, quartet or quintet by Brahms, I feel like I sound most like myself. I think that’s probably closest to my musical voice.
What piece would you like to play with an orchestra but have never done?
This is not appropriate for the ACO, unfortunately, but I would love to play Mahler Symphony No. 6 and I haven’t yet had the opportunity.
Do you have a favorite ACO memory?
One of my favorite weeks with the orchestra was our current Music Director David Amado’s audition week with us. I have dreaded Schubert Symphony No. 9 every time I’d played it previously and I was not looking forward to it; it’s long, especially with all the repeats, I find it quite awkward and exposed and physically tiresome, especially in a small section of 6 we had at that time. His interpretation was so effervescent and uplifting, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, even on double performance day in Stuart. From that moment, I hoped that we would get so lucky to have him as Music Director, and continue to have such wonderful musical experiences for years.
What do you like to do in your spare time or for fun?
I have been absolutely obsessed with tennis for the last three years. I love being outside, I’ve met lots of cool people through it, and I feel the sport helps loosen up any tension I build up in rehearsal. I also like to travel every chance I get!
During season what is a typical day like in your life as a musician?
Honestly, it feels like I drive for a living, and play the violin for fun. Free-lancing across the counties can be very time consuming. On top of all the driving, the work load constantly piles up on top of itself and I have very little down time October through May. It’s really important to plan ahead in terms of getting bowings done, practicing the music, and pacing oneself throughout extremely busy weeks. No day is ever the same, which I like. I enjoy the variety of playing in different places with different sets of people every week, and being a principal player in several groups keeps me very engaged. I try to keep a semblance of a routine in my personal life as much as possible with such a random schedule. It’s thrilling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s really nice to get some down time in the summers.