“I have great confidence in Wendell as a leader and as a teacher. I feel safe as a musician knowing that he is going to lead us.”
~ Elizabeth Eaker, Co-Assistant Conductor of Knoxville Handel Society.
In the fall of 2018, I encouraged my friend, Elizabeth, to allow me to introduce her to Don King, Co-Music Director of the Knoxville Handel Society. She admitted that she was tempted to ask to sing in the concert since she had sung with Dr. Everett McCorvey, Director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, when she was pursuing her Masters in Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Kentucky in 2003-2004.
Elizabeth and her husband Chris are sensitive to the need for balance, both in their lives and in the lives of their family and friends. They recognized that her professional commitments at that time did not leave space for the intense rehearsal necessary for Handel Society. They mutually agreed to “make it work” for Elizabeth to join the choir in the spring, assuming she might be invited.
Elizabeth had received her Bachelor’s in Music from UT in 1996. She taught choral music at Bearden Middle School from 1997 until 2014 when her son, Luke, was born. Since then, she has balanced pursuing her professional interests with full-time mothering. Some of her opportunities include 2015-2018 teaching musical theater part-time in a dance studio; and directing theater music for the Word Players in both 2016 and 2018. Since 2016 she has enjoyed leading home school choirs.
Like most members of the Handel Society, Elizabeth has many options to spend her time, energy and talent. She said that she strives to do the “best thing, not just the supposedly needed thing.” In that context, she chose Knoxville Handel Society. She said that she immediately recognized that “this choir is going places and I want to be part of it.”
As much as she enjoys teaching and conducting, she never wants to walk away from singing herself. She emphasizes that the works performed by the Handel Society “feed my soul”.
When Wendell Boertje, Director of the Handel Society, asked for volunteers to serve as assistants, Elizabeth recognized the importance of the conductor’s role. Leading a choir at this level requires more than one person.
Without the charismatic vision of Don King, the choir will need to regroup–making this the perfect time for Elizabeth to join the leadership team. With her professional skills, experience and deep commitment to balance, she is poised to make a significant impact on the group. She never forgets that music, especially sacred music, is beautiful and that singing should be fun. Joy radiates from her and it is contagious.