Photo by Jane Hancock
Wilma Laurence, 1999
Wilma Laurence began music with piano lessons at the age of 8, but soon after fell in love with the
violin. A native Californian, she played in school orchestras in Redwood City. Her music teacher took her and other students on thrilling
trips to the City to hear the San Francisco Symphony. At the age of 18 Wilma auditioned for and was accepted
as a student of the great San Francisco teacher Naoum Blinder, originally of Odessa, whose most famous pupil
was Isaac Stern. Wilma attended San Jose State University and later studied at the New England Conservatory
Wilma moved to Santa Cruz in 1948 and she and her husband, also a violinist, participated in the
Oratorio Society and the Monday Music Club. Wilma also wrote Club reviews for
The Santa Cruz Sentinel in the 1950s. She'd go to the club Monday night, get a few hours sleep, and
then get up at 4:00 a.m. to write the review on a typewriter in her kitchen before taking it downtown for
the Tuesday morning deadline!
In 1958 Wilma joined the Santa Cruz Symphony for its very first season (see photo above). She played in the first violin section
until her retirement in 1993. Highlights of her career with the Symphony included working under George Barati
and performing in a concert with Jack Benny.
Wilma is under the arrow on the far left. (Click photo to enlarge)
Wilma was a member of the Santa Cruz branch of the Music Teachers' Association for about 45 years. She
has instructed countless private violin and piano students (including Phyllis Hamlin, Miss Santa Cruz
in 1976 who went on to become Miss Nevada and participate in the Miss America pageant with piano as her
talent). Wilma also taught music students at Bethany Bible College in Scotts Valley in the 1970s.
When asked about the main rewards of doing music, Wilma replied, "Well I think knowing other people
that are musicians. I think they're the best sort of people to know!"