n Pr o
lives the adage
"better late than
never." For start-
ers, there is her
career. As she per-
forms with the
phony Orchestra (BBSO) and
SUZANNE CHESSLER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS
other musical groups in the area,
she can recall her college years
and the decade after, when she
gave up the violin to seek steady She has been asked to be among phonic Fantasy last summer," was a student at Royal Oak's
work and devote time to her those backing up Neil Sedaka said the violinist, who moved Dondero High School, where her
and the Moody Blues at the Pine back to Michigan from Missouri teacher was Yenovk Kavafian.
"When I started Wayne State
Now, playing side-by-side with Knob Music Theatre and Mau- just one year ago after 11 years
had a job, I couldn't keep the
musicians who perhaps have not
going so it languished in
had extended career interrup-
for a long time," said the
tions, she really can enjoy her
who then thought she
summer schedule of concerts.
lafonte and the Disney Sym- the people who hire the person- would study foreign languages
nel for the orchestras and become a business transla-
and the shows here. tor. "I went to live in Italy for a
She gave me a list of year, and then decided to move
people I could call."
to Kansas City, where I married
Joining the BBSO and had my children.
was an important move
"When my youngest was still
for the violinist, who having morning naps and I was
also works with sym- looking for things to do besides
phonies in Flint and the laundry, there was the violin,
Dearborn. The BBSO
provides the pool from
which musicians for
Pine Knob and Mead-
ow Brook are pulled, de-
pending on the
orchestrations for each
do not work at every and I would take it out and play
it. I'd say to myself, used to be
"Scheduled musi- able to do this, and I bet I can do
cians go in at 2 in the it again.'
afternoon of the perfor-
"I went to the conservatory in
mance, rehearse with Kansas City, and that led me to
arrangements put in all kinds of jobs that helped me
front of them for the cut my teeth in the professional
first time by the visiting arena."
At the same time that Ms.
and play the show at Friedman was studying violin,
about 8, which usually she also was studying nursing,
is the first time we see again taking a practical career
the guest artist," Ms. approach.
Ten years after she enrolled at
"Being able to sight- the conservatory, which was the
read music is the key to year she finished her master's
working this way be- degree in nursing, the Kansas
cause the performers City Symphony needed one more
move from city to city violinist.
"The orchestra has a very rigid
Learning the violin schedule, daytime rehearsals at
and how to sight-read least four times a week and three
was popular concerts on the weekend," Ms.
Susan Friedman: Playing with the pros.
when Ms. Friedman Friedman said. "Around that
Susan Friedman, a psychiatric nurse, has come
full circle with an old flame
and her violin.
A few hours of
rehearsal, then Art
schedule, I put my psychiatric
nursing practice. I worked a lot,
and each role kept me sane for
the other one."
Ms. Friedman's career pur-
suits were not what brought her
to Michigan. A marriage—build-
ing on a romantic relationship in-
terrupted for 30 years—did that.
"Abba Friedman and I were
fixed up by a friend I had in an
English class at Wayne State
University," the violinist ex-
plained about her attorney hus-
band. "He was brought up in a
home that values classical music
and opera, and he took me to
those kinds of programs while we
Although they enjoyed each
other's company for about two
years, there were religious and
other differences that made them
head in separate directions, and
she moved to Kansas City be-
cause she had friends there.
During the three decades they
were apart, both married and di-
vorced twice. Their blended fam-
ily includes her two daughters
and his three daughters and son.
"Through peripheral friends,
we kind of knew where each oth-
er was over the years, but he did
not know my married name," Ms.
"When he was recently single
again, he called the Kansas City
Civic Symphony and left a mes-
sage on someone's answering ma-
chine asking if they knew a
violinist named Susan. It took
two weeks for the message to get
"He came to Kansas City, and
I came up here. We were mar-
ried four months later."
No longer were there religious
differences, however. Shortly af-
ter moving to Kansas City, Ms.
Friedman converted to Judaism.
"I was interested in what it
was that kept families like the
Friedmans so tightly together,"
said the violinist, who made the
change when she was still single
and later brought the religion to
her two daughters as they were
"I took all the best things I had
seen up here and installed them
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