Leading the Way: Part 1 of 5 — Kelly Lin

Gain insight into Schulich conductors and directors. These women are Leading the Way.
We’re excited to see women taking the lead on the podium and in the director’s chair. With that in mind, we’ve asked some of our master’s students in conducting a few questions about who they are, and what they do.  

Join us over the next few weeks and get to know these formidable talents as they build their careers and shape our musical landscape.  

Kelly Lin

Kelly Lin (BMus'18, MMus'20, MMus'22) is a Chinese-Canadian conductor and pianist who enjoys an active career performing internationally throughout North America and Asia. She holds a bachelor's and master’s degree in piano performance from the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. As the recipient of The Hnatyshyn Foundation – Christa and Franz-Paul Decker Fellowship in Conducting, Kelly is currently in her first year of master's degree in conducting at the Schulich School of Music, where her mentors include Alexis Hauser and Guillaume Bourgogne. She has also studied conducting in Hungary and the United States, under the mentorship of Giuseppe Montesano and Kirk Trevor. 

Kelly’s master’s recital leading members of the McGill Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 will be webcast live from Pollack Hall on Thursday, March 11 at 7:30 pm bit.ly/SchulichWebcasts 

Is there a moment that brought you to now — one that changed your course or confirmed it? 
It is probably not really a specific moment, but as a person with a reserved nature, I feel like I am most comfortable with myself when I am performing as a conductor. It is a kind of escape for me, the podium is a place where I can be an extension of myself, and this is what has brought me to now. 

What do you see as the role and responsibility of a conductor/director?   

Bringing people together and creating music as a unity. As solitary people, we have limited capacity, but through collaboration, WE can achieve something that is bigger than ourselves. 

What’s the toughest thing about conducting? What’s the easiest or most fun?  

The rehearsal is the hardest part, especially when it comes to trying to explain a musical idea with human language. It can be very frustrating sometimes. However, working with other musicians always inspires me. We are all living human beings, and there is always action-reaction happening during music making. It feels like we are taking each other to new places where we haven't been before. 

What advice would you give to your starting-at-university self?   

Find your passion and protect it. 

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your degree?   

I am the type of person who always likes to not be in the spotlight. But I realized that going out of your comfort zone can be a beneficial and fulfilling process. One example would be standing in front of an orchestra. Being focused on that one passion is what gives me the courage to overcome any obstacle in order to reach my goal. 

Tell me a little about your upcoming Master’s recital — what makes you excited about it? 

I will be performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 with my dear MGSO musicians. It has been almost a year since the pandemic happened, and now we finally get a chance to perform music together as a large ensemble. This opportunity is indeed very precious for all of us, and we are all doing everything we can to deliver the best possible result. 

If you had a mantra/philosophy/phrase that sums up where you are now, what would it be?   

You only fail when you stop trying. 

Dream piece to conduct/direct?   

Mahler Symphony No. 5. 

Conductor(s)/leaders you admire?  

Xian Zhang and Simon Rattle. 

What do you want to see/hear more of in your field?  

I would like to see more woman conductors — and there is no such a term as "female conductors". We are all just "conductors"; we are also artists. 


Kelly’s master’s recital will be webcast live from Pollack Hall on Thursday, March 11 at 7:30 pm bit.ly/SchulichWebcasts 

Stay tuned...
Over the next weeks you'll get to meet Sawyer CraigAngela HemingwayNila Rajagopal, and Melissa Tardif.

Read Leading the Way: Part 2 of 5 — Angela Hemingway here
Read Leading the Way: Part 3 of 5 — Sawyer Craig here
Read Leading the Way: Part 4 of 5 — Melissa Tardif here
Read Leading the Way: Part 5 of 5 — Nila Rajagopal here

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