In As You Like It William Shakespeare wrote that “all the world’s a stage.” That expression describes Alicia Enstrom’s life perfectly. Enstrom, BMus’09, has performed on the violin all over the world—from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville to venues in China, Korea and throughout Europe.
Enstrom grew up in Topeka, Kan., in a musical family. Blair appealed to her because of the diversity of the coursework.
“I always had it in my head that I would go [to Blair] because I knew I could get a fantastic classical education as well as learn more about fiddle and jazz,” Enstrom says. “I was also very excited about the alternative music scene in Nashville.”
After her junior year, Enstrom left Blair to go on tour with Barrage—a performance group that’s been described as a cross between Riverdance and Stomp.
“Barrage is an alternative fiddle group,” she says. “It’s choreographed with lots of movement, even high kicks.”
For three and a half years, Enstrom traveled the world with Barrage. Along the way she shared the stage with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil. A desire to complete her degree brought her back to Vanderbilt just in time to join a new performance group that Matt Combs, adjunct instructor of fiddle and director of the fiddling program, was creating.
“The group was called the Second Stringers and was comprised of bass, mandolin, guitar and three fiddles,” she says. “It was a great experience, and we even got to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.”
After graduation, Enstrom sent an audition tape to Cirque du Soleil. A few months later, she was hired to perform at Madison Square Garden in the troupe’s holiday show, Wintuk. After rehearsing in Montreal, she and the rest of the cast moved to New York City in early November. The show is about a little boy’s journey to find snow.
“I make an appearance on stage for a few numbers,” Enstrom says. “My character is a ‘person of the north’ and the costume and makeup process take almost two hours.”
Enstrom describes the Cirque du Soleil music as a mixture of world and pop music. Add those styles to her classical and fiddle repertoire, and it’s easy to see why Enstrom is at home playing just about anything.
“When I was younger, I used to think that classical music was more serious and that you could smile more playing alternative styles,” she says. “But through my experience at Vanderbilt and at various jobs and festivals, my view of the classical versus alternative world changed. Now I know that whatever style you’re playing, you have to figure out a way to have fun with it.”
© 2015 Vanderbilt University | Photo credit: Alexander Srb, Matthew Harney