The Forest Scout’s 2022 Musician of the Year: Eva Sharman

Maestro will take her talents to New York City in the fall

The Forest Scout’s 2022 Musician of the Year: Eva Sharman

Anna Pierson, Editor-in-Chief

An independent and curious child, senior Eva Sharman’s musical journey began at a very young age. Starting on piano, Sharman spent her free time sight-reading and playing simple things by ear. She was eager to expand her talent and took on the violin as well.

“Neither one of my parents are very musical, but both were very supportive early on with my interest in music,” Sharman said. “I took a more casual approach to [piano and violin lessons], not studying with a super strict teacher or anything until later in middle school. Because of this, I had a lot of freedom to do what I wanted with music.”

As she got older, her rehearsals got longer, practices more focused, performances at higher stakes.

Throughout Sharman’s entire high school career, she has displayed exemplary talent in music both inside and outside of school.Inside school, Sharman has been part of the orchestra program for four years. She plays violin as he concertmaster in the symphony orchestra, serves as president for the board of the orchestra program, and participates in the honors music program. As the concertmaster, Sharman is like the “2nd-in-command conductor,” she said. She cues people to come in on time and pays close attention to other sections to ensure the quality of the performance.

“The orchestra program at LFHS is very special to me, and I’ve been involved in it for my entire time here. It really has felt like I’ve grown up alongside many of my peers,” Sharman said.

Her dedication to the program has allowed her to take on an important leadership role within the orchestra this year. Sharman independently directs rehearsals with the violin section and programs new pieces for our upcoming concerts. She also plans bonding events to bring the orchestra closer together to inspire camaraderie among the musicians.

Sharman also played lead keyboard in the Spring Musical, Newsies.

“I trust her musicianship completely,” Orchestra Program Director Robert Bassill said. “When I was conducting the musical, Newsies, there was concern about who would conduct the show if I got Covid. I wasn’t worried because I knew Eva could take over if I got sick and I knew it would be great – perhaps even better!”

Bassill even had Sharman listed in the show as assistant conductor because “she was what held everyone together,” he said. “Even as I conducted the show, her piano part was played on the monitor on stage to keep the actors on stage in time.”

Sharman’s unique talent and passion leads her to pursue music beyond the walls of LFHS.  She plays violin in the audition-required Midwest Young Artist Conservatory, the largest youth ensemble music program in the Midwest. She plays in the top orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra.

“We meet for 3 hours on Saturdays, and we play some of the biggest works for orchestra that usually only professional orchestras would consider playing,” Sharman said. “This season, we performed Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and Mahler’s 1st Symphony, among other things, but these were both really challenging and fulfilling works to play.”

I wasn’t worried because I knew Eva could take over if I got sick and I knew it would be great – perhaps even better!”

— Robert Bassill

Despite being in the Conservatory for six years, undoubtedly establishing her skill and dedication, Sharman does not let herself get comfortable enough to relax her practicing schedule.

“We also have to do auditions every semester, so it keeps me on my toes for practicing violin,” she said.

While her talent for violin is evident, Sharman said piano is her “main instrument,” practicing at least around three hours a day outside of rehearsals.

“I’ve found that usually this is the minimum amount of time that I need to be able to make noticeable progress,” she said.

She said her favorite musical activities are those she participates in with her chamber group where she plays piano in a trio made up of a pianist, violinist, and cellist.

With her chamber group, Sharman gives recitals, makes recordings, and enters competitions. In February, Sharman and her group won the grand prize in the MYAC division of the 2022 Chicago National Chamber Competition.

Sharman on piano with with her chamber group, “Trio Aspaldiko.”

Sharman has recently started to appear as a soloist with many orchestras and ensembles, playing all of Beethoven’s 2nd piano concerto this year along with Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Concerto. She has been interviewed by Youtuber Tiffany Poon for a video where she discussed her hopes for guiding young musicians in discovering what they love.

In addition to doing freelance gigs and concerts and having her recordings broadcasted on 98.7 WFMT, the Chicagoland classical radio station, she also plays at nursing homes around the area.

“In my own recitals, I try to mindfully choose music that reflects my interests and my strengths.  Often, I play at nursing homes in the area where I’ll give 60-90 minute concerts in which I talk about stories behind the music before I play,” Sharman said. “I really enjoy connecting with other people who have the same interests and answering their questions.”

In her early career, Sharman sought and found her passions and what truly inspired her by pursuing many different forms of music, including singing.

“I used to sing in the children’s chorus for some shows downtown with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and that was when I realized I’d far rather be in the orchestra than the choir,” she said. “While I don’t sing anymore, it was a great way to become exposed to and interested in music.

However, Sharman said what pushed her over the edge to truly focus on classical music was listening to it.

“Listening to music is so inspiring to me, and listening to one of the great symphonies from start to finish is really a transformative experience,” she said. “Classical music has the reputation of being boring, quite honestly because only boring stuff is usually played. It’s such a massive genre, and moving into the late 19th and early 20th century most people would find it impossible to call it boring if they’d listened to it.”

Sharman’s gifts in music benefit more than just the ears of her listeners.

At the MYAC, Sharman is a mentor for the Young Music Scholar Program, a program that works to serve dedicated students with underprivileged backgrounds by providing private instruction.

Last summer, Sharman also worked for Bravo Waukegan, a non-profit organization that provides free lessons to elementary school students in underserved areas. Teaching eight students, each with lessons multiple times a week, Sharman said it was “very chaotic,” but she learned so much and was inspired by working with younger musicians.

“My goal as a teacher is to help students find their own joy from music,” Sharman said. “I obviously help them with technique and teach them how their technique aids their vision for their music, but most of all, I want to provide them the tools to experiment on their own and to make discoveries in music.”

Sharman also started an online music blog, Young Classical Musicians, which contains interviews with fellow musicians and practice tips.

“Eva is incredibly dedicated, humble, and the hardest worker I know, and she is always looking for ways to improve, make the most out of her practice time, and share her love for music with others,” long-time friend senior Hannah Stewart said. “Through reading her music blog, I can tell she has become more confident in her playing style and her love for all things music has grown immensely.”

As Sharman enters the next chapter of her life after high school, she has no plans to give up her love for music.

Sharman’s unique college application process had her applying to both traditional colleges and music conservatory programs, doubling the typical workload of a high school senior applying to school.

After months of both essay-writing for college applications and practicing, networking, and completing several rounds of auditioning for music conservatory programs, Sharman’s work paid off.

Drawn in by the core curriculum and flexibility to explore majors in the STEM field or social sciences while maintaining a strong background in humanities, Sharman will be attending Columbia University in New York City as a John Jay scholar.

“I ended up choosing more of a college-oriented program because of the flexibility to explore another major while pursuing music at a very professional level,” she said.

Sharman said she plans to stay at least as equally involved with music at Columbia as she is now and has a well-thought-out process of how to approach it.

Whether it will be working with teachers through Columbia itself, finding an independent teacher in New York City or through the Manhattan School of Music, or auditioning for an exchange program with The Juilliard School, Sharman is determined to find a way to do it all.

“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you will always be able to make time for the things that are important to you,” she said. “There are so many options in NYC, and I cannot wait to guide my own approach to music, collaborating with diverse musicians across the city.”