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Music in the Making

Music In The Making: For The Love Of Conductorless

Kinetic’s founder and leader, Natalie Lin, talks about turning a student project into a vibrant organization, fueled by her passion for string orchestra music.


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On this week’s episode, we go behind the scenes with Natalie Lin, the founder of Kinetic, the conductorless ensemble whose fame here in Houston is rapidly growing. Natalie is currently pursuing her Doctorate at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, but her connection to Houston dates back to her time as an Undergraduate at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston.

Kinetic, the conductorless ensemble
Jeff Gilmer
Kinetic, the conductorless ensemble

Interview Highlights:

On the origins of Kinetic:

“Kinetic actually started as a doctoral project when I first started at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. At the time, we just called it ‘Project Conductorless,’ and it really was just a project, an experiment to explore what it’s like to play without a conductor, and whether it still can be considered chamber music.”

On the repertoire:

“The more I started researching about this genre, the more I realized that there’s so much great music that doesn’t really get played in concert halls these days…the really great string orchestra stuff just gets overlooked a lot of the time.”

On Kinetic’s role in Houston:

“Part of this was figuring out how to fit, or contribute, to the Houston arts scene and that’s been a really incredible exploration for me…I sort of went into it thinking ‘well, I really just want to play great music with my friends and play chamber music,’ but when sort of I got more involved, I realized actually what we do is really important to the cultural community as a whole, and how we fill sort of a niche that wasn’t filled before with the collaborative conductorless format.”

On the challenges of starting a non-profit organization:

“It was definitely a very steep learning curve. That’s something I was willing to take on…you know, for the love of conductorless, and for the love of the project that I had in mind.”

On the future:

“I hope we continue to make great music…I’m incredibly proud of our musicians. The musicians themselves are really committed, and have such integrity to make great music. They’re never happy with just settling, or throwing something together very quickly but they’re always wanting to experiment, wanting to collaborate and try to do this chamber music-style orchestral playing in the best way possible.”

On the upcoming concert, October 15th:

“We’re doing a whole bunch of duos by Bartok that were originally written for two violins, but I thought it would be really fun to have all sixteen of our musicians play a duo, so everyone is pairing up and playing something….sort of like pop-up style.”

Kinetic in action
JinHee Park
Kinetic in action

You can listen to the full interview and hear Kinetic’s musical evolution above. Music selections include the following:

Benjamin Britten: Prelude and Fugue for 18 Parts

Project: Conductorless

October 2014

Duncan Recital Hall


Selections from Benjamin Britten: Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge


May 2015

Duncan Recital Hall


Grazyna Bacewicz: Violin Quartet

Kinetic: MuChen Hsieh, Mark Chien, Natalie Lin, and Dian Zhang

May 2016


Be sure to check out Kinetic's upcoming concert on October 15th, at 5PM. Tickets and more information at

This episode originally aired Sunday, October 8th, 2017. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.