New York City based violinist Evelyn Petcher Brandes brings a passion for innovation and community to all her collaborations. She has performed and led creative workshops all over the US and abroad. Recent solo engagements range from playing Beethoven’s Romances with the Covenant College Chamber Orchestra, to improvising with the internationally acclaimed throat-singing ensemble Alash in Baltimore, Maryland. In February 2017, her duo Colibri with pianist Hannah Mindeman Shuman made its New York City debut at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. In March 2018, Colibri will debut in Baltimore in recital at An Die Musik Live!.
Evelyn’s performances often have an unusual twist, such as dancing while performing a Sarasate showpiece, or pairing Bach sonatas with beat-boxing. Her collaboration with beat-boxer Shodeke Talifero at a Classical Revolution Baltimore event was described by the Baltimore Sun as making “interesting sparks fly.” She enjoys new music and has performed with experimental groups such as the Baltimore based SONAR New Music Ensemble. In 2013, she curated and performed in a set of coffee shop concerts called "Music On Caffeine," featuring Bach’s humorous “Coffee Cantata” among other new and classic works. Evelyn has also appeared as a repeat soloist and chamber musician on series in Baltimore, Maryland, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Montreal, Canada, and Nassau, The Bahamas.
A seasoned orchestral musician, Evelyn has had the pleasure of serving as concertmaster and principal second violin for groups such as Ensemble 212, the Peabody Symphony, the Covenant College Chamber Orchestra, and the Masterworks Festival Orchestra. She has played with orchestras all over the East Coast including the Symphony in C, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the Annapolis Symphony, the Chattanooga Symphony, and the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida.
Evelyn brings the same passion and imagination that characterizes her performances to her work as a strings educator. Recently, she was chosen as an associate faculty member for the acclaimed Elizabeth Faidley Studio in NYC. In summer 2018, she will be serving on violin faculty for the Heifetz International Music Institute’s PEG program for exceptionally gifted youth. Over the past five years, Evelyn has also worked as a violin class and string ensemble instructor for the Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s (YOSL), the Noel Pointer Foundation, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s ORCHKids. In Baltimore, she taught workshops at the Peabody Preparatory, maintained a private studio, and coached sectionals and chamber ensembles for the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras.
Sought after because of her versatility as a teaching artist, Evelyn currently works with the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers Program, the Little Orchestra Society, the Center for Arts Education, and LeAp (Learning Through Expanded Arts Programs) NYC. Her residencies range from teaching strings to integrating musical learning with reading and math curricula to facilitating songwriting and instrumental composition.
Evelyn is also In demand as a leader for collaborative composition workshops. In one-week project settings, she has helped a class of 60 kindergarten students write a song exploring the concept of growth, and has led a team of teaching artists and 55 children in creating a multi-faceted composition on the themes of justice and peace. In 2016, she guided students from the Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s in writing about ideas of belonging for the Carnegie Hall “Somewhere Project,” and she facilitated an exchange between students from YOSL and the Very Young Composers of the New York Philharmonic in 2017.
During her time teaching with ORCHKids, Evelyn became passionate about the El Sistema movement of music education for social change. In 2014 she co-founded East Lake Expression Engine, an El Sistema inspired program in Chattanooga, Tennessee which offers holistic musical instruction to underprivileged children. The program now serves nearly 100 PreK-8th grade students at two sites, and partners with arts organizations, churches, and schools to put on numerous performances across the city every year. Evelyn returns to East Lake Expression Engine often to lead creative workshops, teach violin, and perform at events.
Born in 1988, Evelyn’s love of the stage began with childhood solo performances with the Chattanooga Symphony and youth orchestras. Her love of cross-arts collaboration was sparked by communication training courses at the Heifetz International Music Institute, and her involvement in a high school Shakespeare theater troupe. She continued pursuing liberal arts during her undergraduate degree at Covenant College, in her hometown of Lookout Mountain, Georgia. While studying violin with Jay Christy and music composition with Brandon Kreuze, she also explored drama, literature, and writing, graduating with a double major in English and Music in 2010.
In 2012, Evelyn received her master’s degree in violin performance, studying with renowned violinist Pamela Frank at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. A scholarship winner and concerto competition finalist at both the Masterworks Festival and the Heifetz International Music Institute, she has been fortunate to continue her professional development in recent summers through workshops with the Chiara Quartet, Community Music Works, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
In between projects and performances, Evelyn enjoys traveling, cooking, relaxing, and exploring New York City with her husband John Brandes. She loves spending time with friends and family and is constantly looking for new adventures both within and outside of her artistic practice.