This morning we were heartbroken to learn that one of our alumni, pianist Emily Stearns, lost her battle with acute leukemia. Emily touched all of us at From the Top with her passion, humor, quirkiness, and amazing musical talent.
A native of Butte, Montana and a recipient of From the Top’s Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, Emily appeared on our program in October of 2007 at the age of 18, beautifully performing the very difficult Feux d’artifice by Claude Debussy.
The audience fell in love with her spirited personality when she talked to host Christopher O’Riley about her “obsession” with duct tape, quipping, “It mends everything but a broken heart!”
She talked about creating all sorts of items out of the material, from a purse to a pair of boots. Then she presented Chris with a special gift – a duct tape wallet she crafted with a From the Top logo on it.
Emily was a self-described hard-core environmentalist. “I recycle every bit of paper I can, even those little bits of paper from Hershey’s kisses,” she told Chris – before admonishing him for tossing an old copy of his script into the trash rather than recycling it!
Following the show, she helped us lead a school program for 500 elementary school students in Bozeman, Montana, where she charmed and inspired her young audience.
Emily was a bright spirit on our show, someone who stood out, not only for her musical chops, but for her good humor, generosity, and one-of-a-kind personality.
We are honored to have been able to work with her, and thankful to be able to share a bit of her gifts with our listening audience and assist in making sure she is never forgotten.
Our hearts go out to Emily’s family and friends, and all those who knew and loved her. Listen to her From the Top performance here.
The Montana Standard reports that a benefit concert is planned at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 9, at the Aldersgate Methodist Church with a variety of professional musicians — and friends of Emily — to perform.