Nontypical Classic Musician Gains Confidence


Photo by: Emlyn Swardenski

Kas Austin smiles before the last Touch of Class show in Croatia.

Emlyn Swardenski, Student of Journalism

Kas Austin, from the outside, embodies confidence. He almost always accompanies his split dyed hair and numerous piercings with a smug grin and a sarcastic remark. Kas is not a typical classical musician, and yet, he says becoming a violist transformed his life forever. 

Three years ago, Kas described himself differently. Quiet and shy, he often avoided telling people about his involvement in music. In orchestra, the cellos and violins often pushed the violas out of the spotlight like jealous older brothers. When people joke about the viola being the most useless instrument, Kas embraces the sentiment. 

However, admittance in an elite orchestra group changed everything. Touch of Class threw Kas into a section with Ethan and Andrew Hou, two musicians he looked up to. Kas realizes instantly that he has a choice: push himself to swim against the current of difficult music or let the intimidation drown him. Rising to the challenge, Kas now credits the experience as motivation to improve his fortitude as both a violist and an individual. 

Over time, Kas grew into an assertive performer, traveling to Croatia in the Summer of 2022 for a professional music tour. After performing internationally as well as meeting musicians from around the world, Kas has never felt more passionate about music.

“I have grown in confidence as a performer, I have grown way more in skill than I ever thought I would, and I went on an international trip with people who are now my best friends.”  

Nowadays, Kas Austin frequents punk shows and tattoo shops, far from the conventional violist. However, Kas’s experience in classical music defined his life forever. The viola allows Kas to become a true leader. A leader not just for the orchestra –  but for his own self-worth.