After a 52-year long career at WFMT Classical Music Radio in Chicago, Andi Lamoreaux (formerly McMahon) ’64 recently retired from her position as Music Director. Andi received her bachelor’s degree in music from Wells College in Aurora, New York, and received her master’s degree in music history from Northwestern University.
While working at one institution for such a long time is unusual, Andi is happy with her decision to stay at WFMT for the entirety of her career. “Classical radio is a rather small world, and when I first began my career, there were three classical music radio stations in Chicago. Now, WFMT is now the only one left! I liked what I was doing, and I liked the people I was doing it with, so I simply stayed. It was very much my home!”
“I was initially hired as a librarian, and helped out the Program Director, and pulled records for announcers. I knew a lot about music, but I didn’t know much about radio. Eventually they gave me more responsibilities and authority over time. In 2001, the new Program Director of WFMT appointed me the Music Director so I was in charge of picking a lot of the music that we played and stayed in that role until I retired.”
Andi recalls some impactful moments from her career, including a visit in 1973 from Dmitri Shostakovich – his last to the United States before his passing – where he was awarded with an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “WFMT hosted a news conference as this was a significant event, and we had quite a crowd of attendees and journalists. It was a great event, and we have a photograph of him on the WFMT wall, along with an autographed album.”
In the last 52 years, Andi notes several changes in the world of classical music and her hopes for its diverse and welcoming future. “Though classical music education has been dwindling in both public and private education, an important part of the future of classical music could also mean abandoning the formal, traditional elements of presentation and reaching out more and connecting to their audiences – bringing classical music to the individual communities within the city. We need more of that!”
Andi’s favorite memory from her time at BYSO was “going to Symphony Hall to join members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at a children’s concert. We played the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. I got to sit next to and play with a violinist of the BSO.”
“BYSO was certainly a pioneer in in this field, and I’m very proud that it’s still going strong, and very proud to have been part of it.”
Asked if she had any advice for current students and other BYSO alumni, Andi says: “Practice. Stick with it. Enjoy rehearsals and keep your ears open during them. Oh — and practice.”