Evan Premo: A Marriage Made In Music

We've been celebrating From the Top's 10th anniversary this year by bringing back some of our favorite musicians from past seasons to our radio show. Recently, we caught up with 24-year-old double bassist/composer Evan Premo and his wife, soprano Mary Bonhag, at a taping at Stanford University.

I remember Premo's first performance on From the Top clearly. At 17, he impressed us with his own arrangement of "Summertime" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, as well as his stories about living in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, playing music with his family's folk band, and going ice fishing with his dad. We even had him do a skit with us about his father tuning into NPR from his ice shack, out on the frozen lake.

A year after Premo's From the Top performance, he started school at the University of Michigan, and as luck would have it, he met a girl during freshman orientation.

"I was waiting for a bus when I noticed this girl, Mary, introducing herself to everyone in line. She had a gorgeous smile," he recalls.

Premo started telling Bonhag about his life in the U.P., and his love for NPR and folk music. The conversation seemed familiar, and it didn't take her long to realize that she had heard it all before. She exclaimed, "You were on From the Top!"

As Premo and Bonhag told me this story, I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride in bringing these two wonderful people together. It's been 10 years, but now we can proudly say we've got our first From the Top marriage — and rightly so, it's a musical marriage. They perform together as Duo Borealis and showcased some of Evan's compositions on our radio show recently.

They currently split their time between the Hudson Valley, where Mary is pursuing a master's degree at Bard College, and New York City, where Evan is a fellow of The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. They long to return to rural life, and dream of having a homestead one day. They'll be back in the Upper Peninsula this summer, where Evan will premiere two chamber operas at the Pine Mountain Music Festival. I look forward to seeing where life will take this warm and talented couple.

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