She’s been playing violin since she was 3½ years old and now, at 40, Aisslinn Nosky is concertmaster of the Handel and Haydn Society, which will kick off its 2018-19 season with the Great Bach Concertos and Cantatas at Symphony Hall Sept. 28 and 30. “The Brandenburg Concertos are catchy, as classical music goes. They’re a little bit hummable and quite memorable and to hear them performed live is quite exciting,” Nosky said. “This is some of the greatest orchestral and choral music of the 18th century, and I believe to see that music performed live — and to share it in a beautiful hall like Symphony Hall in Boston — adds a level of intensity and is a completely different experience than listening to a recording.” Nosky, who is from Nanaimo, British Columbia, lives in New York City. We caught up with the head of the famous organization’s string section, a role she took on in 2011, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? My favorite vacation destination is Sydney, Australia. I was fortunate to travel there to perform and took a few days to explore the city and surrounding areas. I’m from the Pacific Northwest and Sydney Harbour felt like a bigger version of the views of my childhood.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? When I’m traveling I like to try whatever the local specialty is, if there is one. I also enjoy trying wines from the region. I don’t know a lot about wine but I enjoy getting to know more about it by asking the locals about the types of wine they make.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I would really like to spend more time traveling around Italy. That region was extremely fruitful for classical music in the 18th century and much of the music I most love to perform was written there. I’m always trying to learn more about Italian culture and history in order to enrich my experience of the music I perform with the Handel and Haydn Society.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Well . . . even when I am traveling for pleasure there is almost always one concert performance involved and so my essential item is my violin. It is an extremely rare instrument made in 1746 and it almost never leaves my side. On the very few trips I have taken without my violin I found myself automatically trying to check that it was safe every five minutes just out of habit.
Aisle or window? Absolutely aisle. I don’t sleep very soundly on planes so I would rather have an easier time getting up to stretch my legs and use the washroom.
Favorite childhood travel memory? When I was a teenager I used to travel to Banff, Alberta, Canada, in the Rocky Mountains to attend summer programs at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. I treasure my memories of hiking through the mountains. The Canadian Rockies have some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever witnessed. This past July I was extremely excited to return to the Banff Centre as faculty for one of their summer programs. The hiking is just as good as I remember!
Guilty pleasure when traveling? I have a personal policy that I let myself do whatever I can to find the healthiest food options in airports. There’s a lot of cheap fast food out there but it’s important for me to stay healthy when traveling and so I always try to eat well. That can be pricey in airports but I find that it’s usually worth the effort and cost.
Best travel tip? This one was passed to me from a friend who is a pilot . . . always be extremely nice to the flight attendants. They have a very difficult job to do and they are always well-trained professionals who are not only going to try to take care of your regular needs but are going to save your life if there is an emergency. This makes perfect sense to me and so I go out of my way to be polite and to tell them that I appreciate their hard work on my behalf. I’ve seen more than one surprised smile from an exhausted flight attendant after I have given them a compliment!