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Spotlight on Student Member: Evelyn Song

September 24, 2023

The following is an edited version of Christine Kharazian’s interview of former student member Evelyn Song:

1. Do you remember your first en­counter with the violin? When and how you chose to become a violinist?

I was introduced to the violin shortly before I turned six years old. The music teacher at my school brought in a few instruments at the beginning of the year, played each one for the class, and let us decide which instrument we wanted to learn. When my mom came to pick me up later that day, I said to her, “I want to play the violin because it’s pretty!” I was already learning piano at the time and was excited to add violin lessons to my mu­sical activities. By middle school, I knew that I wanted to study music in college. During high school I was given a lot of violin performance opportunities, and the more time I spent with the violin, the more I fell in love with its voice. It was then that I decided, without a doubt, that I wanted to be a violinist.

2. You love connecting stories with violin performances. Can you tell us more about that?

When I was attending the New En­gland Conservatory of Music, I was heav­ily involved in the school’s Community Performances and Partnerships Program, through which we reached a large popula­tion in the surrounding communities. My areas of focus were musical storytelling in schools and performing themed recitals at senior homes. I loved the idea of getting young students excited about music at an early age by interweaving music with the reading of children’s books. I saw that the residents of senior homes were very engaged when I shared an interesting fact about a piece before playing it or when I suggested something that they could listen for while I played. The young students joyfully sang along, and their eyes bright­ened when they realized that the sounds from my violin were part of the story. The residents at senior homes laughed, cried, reflected on old memories, and listened with smiling faces and sometimes closed eyes as if they had traveled to a different time and place. After a musical storytelling event, a kindergartener asked if she could climb into my violin case and travel with me. At another school, I had the pleasure of discussing my work with a group of students after a reading of children’s books accompanied by my music. When I was playing bedside concerts at a hospital, one patient, who had been unable to speak because of excruciating pain, was so delighted by what she heard that she carried on long conversations with me. She later told me that, while listening to me play the violin, she had forgotten that she was hurting. These very special per­sonal connections are at the heart of my community engagement work, and the transformations that I witness inspire me to continue this work.

3. When thinking about your teachers what are things you are especially grateful for?

I have been blessed with many won­derful teachers. I am extremely grate­ful for their unwavering dedication to helping me reach my fullest potential. They constantly challenged me to explore new facets of music-making, to bring my playing to another level, and to never stop experimenting and learning. They did all of that with care, patience, generosity, and enthusiasm. Not only did I learn musically from them, but I also learned much from observing their humility, integrity, and impeccable work ethics. I am thankful to have been taught by such outstanding educators.  

4. What is your advice for young FMMC student members?

I would encourage young FMMC student members to accept as many performance opportunities as possible. Performing at a variety of venues helps one to become a more versatile musician, but more importantly, it also gives one the chance to see the profound impact that music has on its listeners. Seeing this repeatedly can provide one of the greatest motivations for us to continue pursuing excellence in music and sharing our art with the communities around us. The world is eager to hear your music!

5. What are your plans for the future?

I have moved back to Maryland and am very excited about all the possibilities that the D.C. area has to offer. I envi­sion community engagement work to be a significant part of my career, with a special emphasis on musical storytelling in schools and performing at senior living fa­cilities, and hope to form meaningful local partnerships. For community engagement work at schools, it would be wonderful to establish a musical storytelling hour where students can enjoy music with good sto­ries and learn about the violin. For senior living facilities, I would regularly provide exciting music programs for the residents, bringing the concert hall experience directly to them. Maybe one day I can take my community engagement work to different parts of the country! I also have a deep love for chamber music and have been toying with the idea of starting a chamber music concert series in the future. In addition, I really enjoy working with young students. My immediate plan is to build a small private studio with the goal of helping my students develop smart practice habits and a lifelong appreciation of music.