Violist Tony Kastelic on Vegan Classical Musician Life and a Revolutionary New Animal-Friendly Bow Hair

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November 29, 2019

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In this episode we discuss living as a vegan classical musician, with a spotlight on Tony Kastelic, a classical viola player and folk-rock vocalist for local indie band Salt Thief. We also enjoy special live performances in this show from both Tony and Animal Voices producer Elyse Jacobson, herself a professional classical violinist. Our interview begins after a brief introduction at the opening of the show, and the live performances begin about 31 minutes in. The discussion between the Elyse and Tony on their experiences with using Coruss bow hair, a revolutionary new professional-grade vegan bow hair, starts from about 10 minutes into the show. This show was recorded as a Facebook Live video and can be viewed on the Animal Voices Facebook page here.

Tony Kastelic on Living as a Vegan Musician

Tony (left) and John Kastelic of Salt Thief
Hailing originally from small-town Coalhurst, Alberta, Tony Kastelic is a full-time orchestral violist and vocalist in Vancouver. His training and experience are tremendously diverse, spanning the gaps between classical music, contemporary music, fiddle and folk, symphonic metal, Balinese gamelan, contemporary throat singing, and doo-wop. Tony has toured across Canada fronting viola-folk-rock duo Salt Thief, and has performed extensively with various other bands, orchestras and arts organizations including the Plastic Acid Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, Prince George Symphony Orchestra, Gamelan Gita Asmara, Opus Arise, and Vancouver New Music. Classical music has always run in Tony’s family. His mother’s family had all undergone classical music training from elementary to high school, and several continued beyond those years. Now grown up, Tony has witnessed ten to twelve uncles and aunts who ended up performing and some teaching a classical instrument. Tony and his five siblings also took classical music training starting from when they were seven or eight years old. Three of the six have become professional string players since. Tony is also a seasoned street entertainer and can often be seen performing at large-scale, open public events such as the Canada Day and fireworks festivals and various craft and farmer’s markets in Vancouver and Kamloops. Outside performing, Tony is an avid tabletop role-player and plant-based culinary enthusiast. Salt Thief‘s next show is their Annual Solstice Show on the 21st of December, 2019 in Vancouver at LanaLou’s Restaurant. They are playing some new songs, so come by to hear them live in person!

Vegan Coruss Bow Hair for Stringed Instruments

Tony Kastelic, his brother John Kastelic, and our very own Animal Voices producer Elyse Jacobson are among the first musicians in Canada to use the Coruss bow hair for stringed instruments such as the violin and viola. Tony and Elyse both made the switch to Coruss bow hair in 2018. Tony appreciates the high quality, uniformity, and decreased deterioration rate of the Coruss hair compared to that of traditional horsehair-based bow hair (which must be replaced at least once or twice per year). The Coruss bow hair is also more reliable for consistent sound as it features less fluctuation in quality with different temperatures, humidity, and pressure, which is very important for musicians who travel for their performances. The award-winning Orchestre de Chambre de Toulouse uses Coruss hair as their bow hair of choice.

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