You’re 18 years old and you’ve been playing string instruments since you were three. You’ve studied with celebrated violin and viola teachers since the age of 12, and now you’re dressed in concert black awaiting the downbeat for your first performance in a professional symphony orchestra.
Your pulse quickens as the conductor slowly makes his way to the podium. He is renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, and you are sitting in the viola section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Welcome to the remarkable life of Kristin Figard, the newest member of Bob Jones University’s string faculty.
This story of Kristin’s pilgrimage to BJU begins in Tallahassee, Fla., several years before her birth. It begins with the extraordinary influence of Marc (now on the science faculty at BJU) and Helen Chetta. The Chettas were instrumental in leading Kristin’s mom, Renee, to the Lord and then introducing Renee to Steve Figard, a research biochemist.
The rest, as they say, is history! The Chettas and Figards remained close; and Mrs. Chetta strongly suggested that the Figard children—Kristin and her sister, Tracy—should begin music lessons. Thus, the musical careers of the Figard sisters were launched.
Kristin’s family settled in the suburbs of Chicago, a fertile ground for a budding music career. On one noteworthy evening, 11-year-old Kristin performed both the Wieniawski Violin Concerto and the Kabalevsky Piano Concerto with the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra.
Although she began her string study on violin, her violin instructor Roland Vamos had the philosophy that every violinist should learn to play the viola. Once her viola studies began, she found herself with more performing opportunities and began receiving awards in viola. Kristin received a full scholarship to study at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She undertook a double major in viola performance and harpsichord maintenance and studies and then completed a master’s degree in viola performance.
Miss Figard has maintained an active performing career. Since 2000 she has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a substitute and was the assistant principal violist with the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra and the Lake Forest Symphony.
She and Tracy perform regularly, accompanying each other on violin, viola and piano. They are also active researchers of violin and viola duo repertoire and have performed several violin and viola concertos together with orchestra. As a chamber musician Kristin has performed with a number of Chicago area groups, including Dempster St. Pro Musica, Fifth House Ensemble, the Pilgrim Chamber Players, CUBE and Dal Niente.
In the spring of 2011, the Chettas once again proved instrumental in Miss Figard’s musical odyssey. Helen Chetta informed Kristin that there would be an opening in BJU’s string faculty in the fall. The opportunity to teach in a Christian environment where she could work with students both musically and spiritually was intriguing to Kristin. She applied for the opening and made her first visit to BJU in March 2011.
“It was a whirlwind, but I loved meeting the music faculty and viewing the ministry firsthand. I knew that this was where the Lord wanted me.” Here at BJU Kristin is now teaching violin and viola, co-teaching string literature, and coaching chamber music. We are delighted to welcome her to our faculty!