Growing up in a musical family, Evan Kahn hated noise. As a child, he would leave the room when his opera singer mother was teaching voice lessons. He tried following in the footsteps of his father, a jazz pianist, but despised his piano lessons and rebelled by hitting his teacher in the face. But one fateful day, Evan heard a piece by Modest Mussorgsky orchestrated by Maurice Ravel called “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and something inside him clicked. He realized the beauty in music, and at age nine, began playing the cello.
Residing in Los Angeles, Evan had the privilege of attending a public high school with one of the best orchestra programs in the country. He also had the opportunity to study with the principal cellist of the LA Opera. When it came time to find a college, Evan considered pursuing a more scientific focus in chemistry or physics, but ultimately, he decided to further his skills as a cellist in college. “I can’t live without the thing,” Evan says. “If you think you can live without your instrument, you shouldn’t be a professional musician. There are too many of us as it is.” And so, Evan found himself at Carnegie Mellon. While it’s no LA, he thinks Pittsburgh is a great change of pace for college, and he’s appreciative of the intellectual diversity on campus. Plus, it’s just the right amount of quirky.
Now a junior, Evan has really dedicated his life to his art. He has played all sorts of venues, from nightclubs to Carnegie Hall — although the latter was with his high school orchestra, which he insists doesn’t count. Although it gets more and more difficult to be satisfied with your own performance as you improve, Evan says there are two things that always make the music worth it. One part is the simple exhilaration of jamming with his friends, and the other part comes when he feels himself relaying the influence of a higher power to his audience through his music. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in ‘God,’” Evan says. “But I can’t play good classical music and not believe that I’m connecting with something greater.”
While he finds that rehearsal takes up much of his time, Evan makes time every Sunday for his duties as the Tartan’s copy manager. As copy manager, he spends the whole day working with the Tartan staff and his own copy staff to make sure every issue of our school paper is easy-to-read and error free. His interest in copyediting coincides with his professional writing major — he’d like to do some freelance work in editing upon graduation.
Before he graduates from Carnegie Mellon, Evan has two goals. First, take up archery again — practicing cello hasn’t left much time for that. Second, play cello on the roof of the UC. Doable? Sure! But when he does leave, Evan hopes to play in pits for musicals and opera productions for a well-known and well-paying company, all while doing some freelance editing on the side. Wherever his future takes him, you can be sure that Evan will have his cello by his side.