SYCAMORE – Since they were preteens, Emma Fredericks and Eva Peterson have performed violin at Sycamore businesses during the holidays, and this Friday they’ll return, as high school students, for perhaps the last time.
Their paired performances started early, when they met through private lessons with Northern Illinois University’s Suzuki Strings program as the girls entered grade school. It’s evolved over the years to become in downtown Sycamore’s Moonlight Magic event, hosted by the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce.
Fredericks, 17, now a Sycamore High School senior, said she’s looking forward to Friday’s performance, and understands the duo won’t last forever. Peterson agreed, saying their paths could diverge after this season as Fredericks heads off to college next year.
“I mean it would be pretty cool if we could do it as we get older,” said Peterson, 16, a Sycamore High School junior. “But we’re both going to be so busy with our lives – especially since Emma’s going to college and doing all of these great things.”
It’s been years since the girls first met at lessons, but that meeting left an impact.
“My very first lesson that I ever, Emma played ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ for me, because she was the lesson right before I was,” said Peterson, who’s been playing since she was 6. “And that was like the very first time I’d ever met Emma and that was so cool to me.”
Fast forward five years later to 2017 and a new upscale women’s clothing store called Lizzy’s Pink Boutique had just opened in downtown Sycamore.
Wanting to stand out during Moonlight Magic – a holiday shopping event hosted by the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce held this year Nov. 18 – Lizzy of Lizzy’s Pink Boutique asked Peterson to perform at the store as a part of the shopping event.
A staple feature of Moonlight Magic invites area performers, Santa and even Mrs. Clause to sit in storefront windows to greet patrons and welcome the holiday season. The magic will start 6 p.m. Friday and run through 8 p.m. featuring 14 downtown businesses to get a jump on holiday shopping.
Peterson, only 11 at the time, was in need of a partner for the performance so she asked Fredericks, then 12, to join her. That November 2017 performance showed the pair what they could do performing together.
“We found that we did duets really well together,” Fredericks said. “And as time went on, we just kind of started doing more and more gigs until we made an actual business and made a Facebook account and business cards and such. So it’s been a solid five or so years.”
The violins-for-hire pair goes by Eva and Emma: Classical Duettes, and feature in local private and public events.
The girls have played violins in front of a live audience for most of their lives. Fredericks said her anxiety before performances has gotten easier with time. ”[But] the jitters, the nervousness never really goes away,” she said.
Fredericks said having someone like Peterson beside her helps temper the fear.
“It really helps just like to have someone to relate to and to look over and see her also in the spotlight,” Fredericks said.
Recently, the duet played in Elburn, and this past weekend performed at the Wonderful World of Christmas craft and vendor show at Genoa-Kingston High School. As they’ve aged, however, the girls said they’ve gotten less gigs.
“We’re kind of at that age where we’re not very young anymore. ... We got hired a lot more because we were younger and it was like really cool that they were like such young kids playing,” Peterson said. “But now that we’re older, it’s kind of like they don’t really want us anymore.”
Nevertheless, the local violinists are looking forward to performances they have scheduled over the next few months.
Fredericks said she’s really enjoy playing duets with Peterson. As a high school senior, however, she’s looking ahead to her life in college and hopes to go to a school in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“I really enjoyed this duet with Eva but I’m going to be going, I don’t know, pretty far away for college and I feel as though with my studies I’m probably not going to have time,” Fredericks said. “But I’m certain we’re probably both going to be in orchestras at the very least, like in our colleges, if we go to college, so we’re still going to stay in music.”
Peterson also said she understands this chapter in her life could close soon, which makes performing at Lizzy’s Pink Boutique - where it all began – all the more special come Friday.
“I think this is a thing for just right now,” Peterson said.