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 a particularly special performance in the Concertgebouw, that was the moment I knew I wanted to try and pursue a career in 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?

Music has given me the opportunity to meet and learn from so many incredible musicians and people, from school to traveling and having the chance to do side-by-sides with other students in other countries has been 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 pursuing a career in classical violin on the opposite coast, in San Francisco.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

If this is something you really love, stick with it! It’s a wild ride, but the people you meet along the way and are able to learn from or collaborate with makes it all worth it!