Elgin Symphony Orchestra
Wendy Evans remembers a fateful childhood trip to the drugstore where she received a toy figurine of an angel playing the violin.
“From my earliest memory, I wanted to play the violin,” said Evans, who still has her toy angel as she begins her 21st season as a violinist with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.
Wendy will represent the symphony at the U-46 career expo in October at ECC (link). She’ll be talking with students about her experiences not only as a professional musician, but also her career in arts management. When Wendy puts down her bow, she acts as the ESO’s director of community engagement and orchestra personnel.
A school teacher in her native Iowa provided some formative experiences for Wendy on the violin, laying the foundation that led to private lessons and eventually, a music degree from Morningside College in Sioux City, and a master’s degree from Northwestern University. From there, Wendy played with several orchestras, including one in Hong Kong, before joining the ESO in 1996.
For budding musicians, her advice is straightforward and time-honored: practice relentlessly, and be willing to fail. Both traits help a would-be orchestral musician hone their skills and grow in proficiency. Wendy, who auditions musicians for positions at ESO, said it is often equal measures of “grit” and talent that lead to success.
In her administrative job, Wendy is in charge of several programs intended to increase the ESO’s visibility in the community and introduce school children to classical music. Students interested in a similar career in the front office would be well served to have an education in business. Orchestra management and administration doesn’t require performance skills, but a love and knowledge of the music is important, Wendy said.
“It helps to study the art form and know it well,” she said.