Emily Bouton, violin

Emily Bouton, violin

When Emily was very, very little, she would watch her older sister, Elena Bouton, during her violin lessons. By at the advanced age of 3, she too wanted to play. Since her Dad played guitar and Mom piano, they’d often play fiddle tunes and make Christmas tapes for family.

Emily played in her school orchestras through elementary, middle and high school (four years behind Elena). She went to music summer camps, with tennis and fiddle tunes. And played in the Empire State Youth Orchestra, touring in Portugal.

Next was McGill University in Montreal for a degree in Cognitive Science and Media Studies, where Elena also was (three years ahead of her, after a gap year). While there, Emily and Elena played in the McGill Community Orchestra, contending with a French-speaking conductor and also contending with a musical system she wasn’t familiar with (the solfège naming system, which uses Do, Re, Mi rather than C, D, E).

“I made peace with not quite knowing what the conductor was yelling about.” Her first year there, Elena’s last, they played together in an orchestra for the first time.

The pandemic closed the borders and sent Emily home to New York, where she finished her degree. Feeling the need for a road trip, she came to the Bay Area, where Elena had relocated. “I liked it so much I decided to stay,” she says. She now works for A Home Away from Homelessness, a nonprofit working with children.

She stills like to play fiddle music and is venturing into R&B and soul music—on violin and as a singer. You might find her around town at Irish jams and open mike nights! “Music is a time to get out of my head, and be with a big group of people all working on something together,” Emily says. “There’s nothing really like playing in an orchestra and putting our hearts, minds and bodies into it.”

~ Joyce Vollmer

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