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Music, Miles, and Motherhood

Music, Miles, and Motherhood

First violinist Karen Boyaris was originally inspired to play an instrument when her older sister took up the oboe. The aspiring flautist was swayed by her school’s need for string players, and she has been playing violin ever since, all through high school and college and then joining the Evanston Symphony Orchestra in 1982. Her professional calling, however, was law. Hoping to make an impact, Karen originally pursued social justice, but her path took her to criminal appellate work and, ultimately, state and local taxes and her current role at KPMG. With a set retirement date of December 1, Karen is looking forward to playing more violin. Of her time with the Evanston Symphony, Karen has said that she appreciates being able to think in a different way and to apply her skills in another environment. It is wonderful to get to a concert and perform at such a high level, particularly on pieces like “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” one of Karen’s favorite memories from her years with the orchestra.

Despite her career success and the creative outlet of music, Karen still had another life goal to attain. Shortly after turning 40, she and her husband decided to expand their family by pursuing adoption. The Cradle of Evanston helped them to navigate the process for the program in Russia, and when they were approached about a child with a correctible heart defect, the couple eagerly agreed. One-year-old Peter endured multiple surgeries and therapies, and he has since grown into an outgoing, polite, and personable young man. Now 24, Peter holds a degree in Communications from North Park University. His younger brother, Jose, drew Karen and her husband all the way to Guatemala when he was six months old. There had been civil war in the country for a number of years, and many people were living in poor, rural areas, as was case with Jose’s birth mother, whom they got to meet. At 18, Jose is tremendously creative, with far-ranging interests like science and art, which carries over to his studies at Oakton Community College. Though the job of being a parent was often difficult, necessitating a reduced workload at her job or taking time off from the ESO, Karen could not be prouder of the young men her sons have become.

Laura Cinat is enjoying her third season in the second violin section of the ESO. She first engaged with the instrument in 5th grade via her public school’s Suzuki program, and she continued through grade school and high school, youth symphony orchestras, and solo and ensemble contests. Though Laura considered making music one of her undergraduate majors and a potential career, her parents encouraged her to, instead, keep it as an important hobby. She ended up earning a BA in comparative literature, followed by an MBA, both from the University of Michigan. Still, Laura managed to play in the University’s orchestra for non-majors, where she held the position of concertmaster, and in the pit orchestra for campus shows. She also continued on with the Ann Arbor summer symphony and, following graduation, played in quartets and did gig work. After moving to the Chicago area, eventually settling in Evanston and emerging from a 20-year hiatus to take violin lessons at the Music Institute of Chicago, Laura auditioned for the ESO and was offered a seat. She is thrilled to be playing again, especially with such a high-quality ensemble.

For Laura, it was her career that brought her around the world. An internship with the Educational Opportunities Council, founded by Desmond Tutu to combat apartheid in education, brought her to South Africa where she helped the Council to become a professional services organization. After graduate school came the opportunity to travel again, this time to Ukraine through the MBA Enterprise Corps, which sent recent graduates to work in countries with transitional economies. Ukraine had just gained independence six years earlier, and Laura stepped into this volatile economy to help a startup company that was in need of more formal systems and processes. During this time, she lived in a one-bedroom apartment with a Ukrainian family and took Russian language classes every day. A chance encounter in Kyiv with a representative of the Research Institute in Ann Arbor led to more permanent employment with the Ukrainian Land and Resource Management Center, which was bringing together American and Ukrainian scientists to convert software formerly used for defense purposes to being used for environmental purposes. After three years, Laura returned to the United States, where she worked in management consulting followed by change management, eventually starting her own business helping companies to plan for change in areas such as strategy, culture, technology, or acquisition of another company. Her mission statement is “Increase human dignity through business,” and she loves effecting change and enabling people to feel valued and accepted in their careers, with the freedom to be their whole selves and to use their creativity.

Both of these passionate musicians found themselves traveling the world in pursuit of goals that, while very different, brought great personal reward and improved the lives of others. They continue to find creative fulfillment with the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, and they benefit orchestra members and listeners alike by sharing their talents.

Karen BoyarisLaura Cinat

Karen Boyaris, top

Laura Cinat, bottom

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