Evan Wood: Senior Consultant at Oliver Wyman (NYC)
Daniel Wood: Product Manager at Microsoft (Seattle)
Daniel (left) and Evan (right)
In 1961, April 23 was officially named “Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras Day” in the Commonwealth of MA in honor of the (G)BYSO students’ performance at the White House. As we celebrate BYSO Day this month, we sat down with Evan and Daniel Wood, ’14, twins who spent 4 years as students at BYSO and are now alumni donors. Evan is a Senior Consultant at Oliver Wyman and trombonist in the Chelsea Symphony, and Daniel is a Product Manager at Microsoft, as well as a violinist in the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra. Find out more about their love for music, experiences being part of BYSO as a set of twins, some of their favorite memories, and why they choose to give back!
Evan and Daniel’s love for music is a family affair. “Our primary instruments are violin and cello,” Evan notes. “Our parents actually chose those for us because they wanted the 4 of us to make a string quartet. And now with our brother Ethan (BYSO ‘20, Violin and Piano), the five of us can perform as a piano quintet!”
While Evan now works as a Senior Consultant at management firm Oliver Wyman, and Daniel as a Product Manager at Microsoft, they are acutely aware of the influence that being musicians and performers has had on their approach to their careers. Evan feels that one of the most important skills he learned at BYSO was time management. “BYSO made it abundantly clear that this was a large but worthwhile time commitment. You learn from a younger age how important it is to prioritize the things that matter to you. Even if you are super busy, you are responsible for the things you’ve committed to. This quality has shaped my approach to both work and life.”
Daniel also notes the importance of collaboration. “In an orchestra, you’re working with other people – you are part of your own section, as well as an overall group. In my current role, it’s all about working with other people, and communicating clearly. BYSO taught us this from a young age.”
Evan and Daniel’s experience is a unique one, as they are twins and have shared many common experiences together – such as being part of BYSO, and having both attended Princeton University – yet they play different instruments. Daniel says that “being twins can sometimes lead to competition, but here we could play in a complimentary way rather than a competitive way.” Both agree that “the difference also led to us forming a lot of friendships. Evan would have his cello friends, and Daniel would have his violin friends, and then we would all get to know each other, too.”
Now that they live apart, Evan notes the continued importance of sharing music together, particularly with the unique connection they share as twins. “We’ve become more independent now, but when we get back together we almost always end up playing music together. It’s a special part of our bond, and a very central part of our lives.”
Evan and Daniel with BYSO Executive Director Cathy Weiskel.
They look back fondly on their time at BYSO, and some of their favorite memories include “dressing up in costumes for the Magic Flute, performing the Operas, BYSO camp, and going on tour to Vienna.” Both also vividly remember getting to play side-by-side with the BSO. As a cellist, Evan got to play with Blaise Déjardin, who has since become the principal cellist of the BSO. Daniel played with Ikuko Mizuno, the first woman and first Asian violinist in the BSO. “Getting to sit through rehearsals with her and being part of a concert together was an awesome experience. She even gave me her rehearsal pencil, which I still have!”
Both Daniel and Evan had the opportunity to perform under the baton of Fed Cortese, who is celebrating his 20th anniversary with BYSO this year. Daniel is especially thankful for his introduction to Opera– “Fed opened my eyes to what most high schoolers never get to experience.” Evan, on the other hand, speaks of the value of learning to play music with meaning. “The BYSO approach is so unlike many other youth orchestras around the country. I learned more about the history of each piece we played, and we were all inspired to play with integrity. It was really rewarding, and Fed is the driving force behind this approach.”
It is because of this integral experience that both Evan and Daniel chose to become donors and support the newest generation of BYSO students. Evan says that “BYSO was one of the most rewarding parts of my high school experience, and to give other people the chance to participate, especially if they face financial barriers, is really great.” Daniel adds on, noting that “funding for arts organizations can be challenging, so having the ability to give back to the community, and to help change the lives of more students, is really important!”
Asked if they have any final advice for current students, Daniel encourages them to always keep music as part of their lives. “Although I am not pursuing music full-time professionally, I made a conscious decision to continue doing music no matter what, and it’s one of the best decisions that I’ve made. It’s also a great way to meet people, particularly in a new city, and you see a different side of a community through the lens of music. I would definitely encourage students to be active in music as long as they can.” Evan reiterates this, saying that “music is something that brings people together in the real world, and makes you more interesting as a person. Plus, there are some activities that you might take on when you’re younger that are harder to pursue as an adult, but the beauty of music is that it can be lifelong.”