Life as a Symphony Musician Mom | Meet Celeste Golden Boyer

Celeste Golden Boyer is the Second Associate Concertmaster for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and is a wife, mom of two, photographer and much more! We sat down with her recently to get to know her and learn how she balances her life as a musician with her life as a mother! 
STLMB: Tell us about yourself! Where are you from, your family, etc?
My name is Celeste Golden Boyer.  I am a mom of two precious little ones, Charlotte Evangeline who is five, and Benjamin Arkady, who will be four in a few short weeks!  I grew up in Dallas, Texas, right across the street from the greatest violin teacher there ever was!  His name was Arkady Fomin, and he agreed to teach me when I was nine years old.  He gave me daily lessons – sometimes twice a day!  I feel sure that he is the whole reason that I get to enjoy a career in music today, and I’ll be eternally grateful!  
My family is full of musicians – mostly of the church music leader variety.  Singing and playing in church was a huge part of my early musical experience and education.  I remember the first time I played my violin in church as a very little girl, thinking I should take a huge “hello, toes!” bow after I finished playing like I had been taught in my Suzuki lessons, and hearing the whole congregation giggle!  I was a little hesitant about bowing for a few years after that.  Singing in church choir played such a huge role in my music education.  For one thing, it was excellent ear training, and even better to learn how a voice naturally phrases – both of these things are so important to me as a violinist!  Also, the text of the songs we would sing in church certainly stirred the heart, and taught me from an early age what a beautiful and almost supernatural outlet of expression music can be! 
STLMB: How did you get started playing the violin? What is your musical journey? 
I started playing the violin at the age of three, after seeing an episode of Mister Rogers on television that involved violins and young people who play them!  I still recall the moment when my mother asked me if I’d like to “play the violin, like those kids” and my response being a very gentle nod in the affirmative, and bam!  Longest lasting life choice MADE.  
I already mentioned that my real journey as a violinist began when Mr. Fomin moved in across the street.  From there, I was accepted as a student at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2000 at 15 years old, where I earned my bachelor’s degree and discovered my deep love of orchestral music and the camaraderie and joy to be found in playing as an orchestral musician.  After earning my master’s degree from Cleveland Institute of Music, and a few years of performing as a concerto and recital soloist, I met my husband, decided it was time to settle down, and started taking auditions to join an orchestra!  First, I landed a position as a section player in the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and then, I was lucky enough to win my job as Second Associate Concertmaster here in St. Louis.  
STLMB: What was the audition process like for the SLSO? 
It is grueling!  It involved a very early call time, two shorter rounds of audition behind a screen, and a much longer final round when the screen came down and I finally got to see and connect with real live human people!  It’s a long day, but what a huge reward in the end.  I remember hearing the results, thanking the panel, getting in my car and just exploding with tears!  I was so humbled by having been trusted with this position, and thrilled about the great music I was going to get to make with my extremely gifted colleagues.  
STLMB: How do you manage being a mom with being a musician? Do you practice at home, or do you have to go somewhere to practice in peace?
I have a GREAT nanny!  Her name is Alisha.  WE LOVE YOU ALISHA!  
The orchestra schedule is not like a regular 9-5 job. In many ways, it’s wonderful for being a mother.  There are some daytime hours that I get to spend with them during the week, and most of our weekend work occurs in the evening when they’re asleep anyway.  They usually send me off on concert nights with a “beautiful dress, Mommy!” which is super sweet.  Charlotte and Benjamin love music, which is a huge bonus.  They get excited when they hear me practicing something fast… suddenly two tiny dancers appear in the music room!  I do tend to practice when I need to at home, but if I have something super serious and scary to prepare for, I’ll find a way to practice somewhere at Powell Hall to force me to focus.  I’m not sure I can blame that on them, though!  
STLMB: Are your children interested in learning to play an instrument? 
Both of my children take violin lessons from Joe Kaminsky at the Kirkwood School of Music.  He is such a wonderful, patient, and fun teacher!  I always marvel at his ability to make lessons so age appropriate for both kids – he knows all the best tricks!  We are very blessed that he teaches our kids!  
STLMB: Does your family attend all your concerts?
My family does not attend all my concerts!  The kids normally come to our education concerts, as long as they don’t conflict with nap time, because… I looooove nap time and just can’t let it go just yet!  My husband listens to the symphony’s Saturday night radio broadcast 100% of the time!  He’s a big fan.  
STLMB: What tips do you have for kids starting to learn an instrument?
Practice, practice, practice and do everything your teacher tells you!  You can’t imagine how motivating it is for a teacher to have a student who listens and follows through with what they’ve been taught from week to week.  Give your teacher your best, so they can give their best to you!  
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Rebekah is the founder and owner of St. Louis Mom. Born and raised in St. Louis, she loves the city for its rich history and small-town feel, Cardinals baseball, and toasted ravioli! After living and working overseas for three years, she is thrilled to be back in St. Louis. She is a full-time stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters and a son and wife to her husband Jean-Christophe. They reside in Rock Hill. Her hope for St. Louis Mom is that it will be a tool for building community between mothers and a space where diverse ideas and experiences can converge!