Emma Churchill


Photo by Matt Dine


Orchestra of the Americas, Bowdoin Music Festival, Orford Musique, Cremona International Music Academy

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

I grew up in a musical household and my earliest memories are of being brought to concerts and recitals.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?

At age 17 I went on a youth orchestra tour in Europe. After performing Ein Heldenleben in the Concertgebouw, I knew I wanted to pursue music.

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply?

Friends who were already part of the orchestra spoke highly of the program and convinced me to send an application.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Alisa Weilerstein and Jacqueline du Pre

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most?

Spotify will tell me the answer is Indie Sunshine, but I am truly the person who will look up whatever mood when trying to figure out what to play. (For example: “Cooking with Friends,” “Sunset Roadtrip,” etc. always leading me to a great “Indie” playlist).

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it?

Ein Heldenleben because that was the first big piece of music I performed in a major concert hall.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician?

Being a part of Orchestra of the Americas was really incredible. Everyone coming from different parts of the world/schooling but coming together to learn from/work with each other was really special.

Favorite non-classical musician or band

This might be basic, but listening to the likes of Earth, Wind, Fire; The Beatles; and Frank Sinatra will always make me feel better.

If you could play another instrument, what would it be?

Trumpet <3

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

I don’t want to sound cliche but honestly while I’ve never given myself the time to figure out where I’d be if I didn’t go the cello route, I do like to think I’d be somewhere in music admin because I don’t like straying far from what I know.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why?

1) Michelle Obama—wife of the first politician I was old enough to truly understand and have a mock ballot for (8th grade), and I’m curious what it was like being in her shoes as the first BIPOC First Lady with two young daughters.
2) Queen Elizabeth II—She was two years younger than me when she became monarch and then was queen/ruled for 70 years?? I have so many questions.
3) Natalia Gutman—being able to stand out/make a name for herself as a female cellist considering everything she went through.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us

I have an identical twin sister who is pursing a career in classical violin and we made the decision to live on opposite coasts.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

If this is something you really love, stick with it! It’s a wild ride but something about being surrounded by people your age you can always learn from along with being able to make a living doing what you truly love makes it all worth it (in my eyes).