Hope Wechkin is known to Northwest audiences for her ability to bring together seemingly disparate arenas of music, profession, and thought. As Melinda Bargreen, music critic for the Seattle Times writes, "The music world is full of fascinating people but in more than three decades of writing about music, I've never met anyone quite like Hope Wechkin."
Raised outside a small town in western New York, Wechkin (pronounced wetch-kin) began playing the violin and piano at a young age. Once she arrived at Yale University in the late 1980s, she began to branch out from her classical background: in addition to playing in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, she explored eastern European music, became the conductor of the Yale Slavic Chorus, acted and composed for the Yale Children's Theater, and traded plans for a major in music for one in religious studies, with which she graduated summa cum laude.
A few years after arriving in Seattle on a Greyhound bus, Hope combined her burgeoning interests in science and humanitarian action in a bid to study medicine. A 1997 graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Hope practiced as a family physician in community health and integrative medicine settings for seven years. She subsequently pursued a growing interest in the care of patients at the end of life, and since 2007 Wechkin has worked full time as the medical director of a large hospice and palliative medicine program outside Seattle, where she is a sought-after leader, teacher and speaker as well as a member of the faculty of the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Throughout her medical career, Hope has had an active career as a musician that consistently pushes performance boundaries. Her dazzling ability to sing and play the violin simultaneously found a wide audience in 2008 during the sold-out run of her one-woman show, Charisma, at Seattle's ACT Theatre. For this production, she not only composed and performed all of the musical numbers, but portrayed a dozen characters, all while clad in a white hospital gown.
In 2013, Hope released her debut CD, Leaning Toward the Fiddler, on Ravello Records. Hailed by Gavin Borchert of the Seattle Weekly as a "great, great achievement" and by James Crel of The Strad for its "understated but distinctive style," this release earned Wechkin Global Music Awards for Best Breakout Album and Best Female Vocalist, as well as a listing at #18 on renowned jazz critic and historian Ted Gioia's list, "Best 100 Albums of 2013."
In 2014, Hope began preparations for her most ambitious project yet, an evening-length performance featuring 30 singers, instrumentalists, dancers, and actors in a multimedia exploration of the human capacity to "be with" another. Drawing from clinical medicine and recent findings in neuroscience research conducted at the University of Washington, The Withing Project has been awarded grants from the City of Seattle and King County's 4Culture program. Hope serves as originator, composer and singer for The Withing Project, which will debut in November 2015 in Seattle.
Hope lives in Seattle with her husband, composer and arts administrator Christopher Shainin, along with their young son Henry.