Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mormon Women -- Jenny Oaks Baker

Upon reading Laurie Williams Sowbie’s article “Jenny Oaks Baker: Mormon, mom, musician” that was published in the Mormon Times on August 14, 2009, I found a new meaning to the commonly used phrase “marching to the beat of your own drum”. Although Baker is not a drummer but rather an esteemed violinist, this phrase still rings true to her character. Throughout her life, Baker has achieved numerous accomplishments not only in her professional career but also in a nurturing, guiding presence in her family life. Such an independent, realistic mindset about balancing one’s priorities in different roles in life is invaluable to becoming a well-balanced human being.

Even when Baker was four years old, her musical talent was evident. This capable woman started performing at the tender age of eight years old in the Utah Valley Symphony. However, after being educated in the acclaimed Curtis Institute of Music and the Juliard School, two of the most selective institutions in the country, Baker became first chair at the National Symphony Orchestra, which performs at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall.

In addition to pursuing her career, Baker highly values and appreciates her family. As a result, when she felt the need to give more attention to her family, Baker decided to give up her seat in the National Symphony Orchestra to devote more of her time to her familial roles as a wife, mother, and daughter. However, Baker is far from ending her musical career. As Sowbie saliently remarks “Baker works hard to balance the roles of mom and musician.” Baker manages to both create and teach her music by practicing with her children. In fact, Baker intends to perform one of her songs with her three daughters at a fireside. Moreover, Baker still records albums with songs that often achieve high positions on the classical music charts, which conveniently enables her to spend time with her family. It is clear to see that she has a special relationship with her father, Dallin Oaks, who is currently a Member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and was a former president of Brigham Young University. Her father has remarked that he is extremely proud of her dedication and enjoyed over the years hearing her countless hours of practice in the household. A poignant familial influence on her music was titling one of her albums “Songs My Mother Taught Me”, dedicated to Baker’s mother who died on July 21, 1998 from pancreatic cancer.

Overall, Baker has integrated the LDS faith into her life by sharing her gifts with the world and also moving effortlessly in her devotion to different roles of her life.

To see how Laurie Williams Sowbie portrays this exceptional woman in her article in the Mormon Times please follow the link:

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this article in FruitsofMormonism and the story in the Mormon Times. I have been lucky enough to hear Jenny Oakes Baker perform several times. She is wonderful. I think her decision to give up the first chair in the National Symphony is a tribute to her balancing her career and family. I'm sure the decision was not taken lightly. We are fortunate to have her in the Washington area.