Hitting the high notes

Katherine Azzam is Perth’s only aerial violinist. Photo by Naomi Reed.

INGLEWOOD local Katherine Azzam holds the distinction of being Perth’s only aerial violinist.

“There’s a few in the world,” Azzam tells us. “Circus is hard, and violin is really hard as well. But it’s really fun for me. Playing in a classical orchestra, it’s very cut and dry, whereas in circus I can choose the music, I can choose what I play… it’s quirky, high energy, and really fun.”

Originally a classical orchestra violinist, she took to the air after taking some circus classes and offering to play some violin for their shows. 

Then came the idea to both play and perform: “One of the performers says, ‘hey, have you seen this chick Janis Martin? She’s this American chick, she’s phenomenal, she’s ex-military, she went to Juilliard… and she plays aerial violin.”

After studying up, Azzam took to the trapeze, testing out different techniques and timings to play amid the manoeuvres. 

She says “the hardest thing was designing the harness so the violin doesn’t flap around” when it needs to be stowed for the hands-on stunts, and from there “it’s about figuring out the trickiest moves you can do without the bow going into your eye”.

Azzam performs in the one night only show Confetti that’s celebrating 10 years of circus company Kinetica, combining aerials, acrobatics, drag and burlesque at the Rechabite on September 16 at 6.30pm.


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