When Shirley moved to Wilmington in 2003, her first call was to Joanne Riesz -- then the Wilmington Symphony's Orchestra Manager -- to request an audition. Performing as a violinist in the Orchestra since then has been a perfect fit for her. In fact, just four years after joining the Wilmington Symphony she succeeded Joanne as the new Orchestra Manager/Music Librarian and still fills those shoes today.
Prior to her time in the Wilmington Symphony, Shirley worked for the Air Force providing pilots with weather briefings. She has a degree in Atmospheric Science (she and her husband are both meteorologists and met while working at a private forecasting company outside of Boston in 2000).
She also loves cars and tarantulas! She drives a 2001 Impreza 2.5RS and performs the maintenance herself. Shirley and her husband once owned two dozen tarantulas.
When asked who influenced her to become a musician, she says "As far back as I can remember, I wanted to play the violin. My 6th grade and also high school orchestra teacher, Mark Cornell, was a talented violinist with the Albany Symphony. I will forever be grateful to him for the personalized instruction he provided me. When my skills had outgrown my student instrument, he loaned me one of his personal instruments until my parents were able to purchase a more suitable violin for me. At the age of 38, Mark Cornell was killed by a drunk driver on his way home from a high school pit orchestra rehearsal. Over a decade later, I still think of him from time to time, wishing he could see me continue to grow as a musician."
In addition to playing violin in the Wilmington Symphony, Shirley also plays at weddings and receptions and in pit orchestras with local theater companies, including the 2010 re-opening of Thalian Hall.
Here's an interview with Shirley in 2020:
How long have you played the violin?
Since 1987, so close to 33 years.
How long have you been a Wilmington Symphony Orchestra musician?
Since 2003, so close to 17 years.
What do you do for a career?
Freelance musician, private violin instructor, and brand ambassador.
Where did you grow up?
What is your favorite song, artist, and/or musical memory?
Having all the symphony musicians on stage at the start of each concert while serving as orchestra manager.
Favorite meal or restaurant?
Tom Yum Noodle Soup from Umaii.
Soy chai latte
What is your favorite vacation?
Meeting up with my husband in Sydney after he finished supporting the Australia bushfire season.
You're stuck on a desert island... What book, music/album/artist and/or movie do you want with you??
Spotify's Peaceful Meditation playlist
What's your pet situation?
Mick (Yellow-Naped Amazon parrot) & Minnie (Domestic Shorthair cat)
What do you want people to know about the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra?
Your support of our symphony helps provide so many opportunities to the children of the Cape Fear region through our various youth programs.
How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day?
Teaching violin privately online. Learning an Avett Brothers setlist for their fan meetup event rescheduled for October. Working on Paganini Caprices and Mozart Sonatas. Catching up on yard work.
Any words of wisdom to help others through this pandemic?
Be kind to one another.
Christine Maynard, Concertmaster
Mary Jo White