Baroque On BeaverClassical Music on Island Time


Jamie Crawford

Jamie Crawford – Concertmaster (2017)

First Violin

What are your most important educational and musical moments?
(Educational) In my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, my first violin teacher took my brother and me to a hotel to meet and play for a wonderful violin instructor named Elaine Richey who was in town performing with the Piedmont Chamber Orchestra. She would later become my main violin teacher at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. While we were exchanging hellos on the front steps of the hotel, we suddenly realized our instruments were gone. After the initial panic, it turned out that the bellhop had taken our violins with the performers’ luggage and instruments. I learned that day to always keep a part of my body touching my violin case!

(Musical) You might think that out of all the amazing performances I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of, I might list a classical concert that was incredibly moving (and there are many), but the experience that comes immediately to mind for me was in the summer of 1991. I was contacted by a colleague to join the Warner Brothers Symphony Orchestra for the North American Tour of Bugs Bunny’s 80th Anniversary, “Bugs Bunny on Broadway”. We performed all the most popular cartoons with a huge movie screen above the orchestra to sold-out houses from the west to east coast. That was one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I’ve ever had! 

Tell us about your family.
My spouse’s name is Megan. She is a wonderful violinist and a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony strings section (and now my stand partner at Baroque on Beaver!) as well as currently being the visiting professor of violin at Western Michigan University. I met her when she came to audition for the orchestra and fell immediately in love. We have 5 children ranging in age from 6 to 22 years of age (Seiji, Kenji, Naomi, Orion, and Julia respectively), and we have 2 cats that are rescue animals we adopted, and 2 dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Bernedoodle. 

Why did you choose music?
I feel that it chose me, that I’ve somehow played the violin in a previous life.  If I must answer this question more conventionally, I chose music as a career because it’s a universal language. While I and the listener may not speak the same language, music still allows me to communicate with them regardless. There is something profoundly powerful about that.

Why did you choose your instrument?
My older brother began violin lessons a year before I started, and our teacher taught a combination of traditional and Suzuki training methods. The Suzuki method encouraged family participation so, my parents and I sat in on his lessons. From week to week our teacher would ask my brother about specifics from the previous week, and I would pipe in with the correct answers. I would also pick up my brother’s violin and try to play it. Although I originally preferred and requested the cello, I was told I was too small for the instrument. That along with the need for violin players in our school led to me selecting the violin.

What else are you currently doing?
I am a full-time professional orchestral violinist, Concertmaster, and chamber musician. 

Any non-musical interests or hobbies?
My father was stationed at the Charleston Air Force Base and was in the Air Force for 20 years as a jet engine technician. We lived a mere half mile away from the air base, and I grew up around aircraft and saw them taking off and landing constantly. I think because of that exposure, I’ve always had a love for anything “high-tech”. I began working on automobile engines around 12 years of age and built my first computer at around 17. I’m still very interested in computers and still work on and build them.

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