Christopher Duquet is a jewelry designer who likes a challenge—so when the Illinois-based jeweler was approached to create something to celebrate a symphony’s 75th anniversary, Duquet let his skills plus technology play together with harmonious result.
As a special commission for the Evanston Symphony Orchestra, Duquet designed, crafted, and delivered a sterling silver and diamond baton for the symphony’s longtime conductor to use during its November anniversary performance. The custom-made baton—light, sparkling, and personal—was a highlight of the special event.
The baton’s rich details—for example, the way its circumference includes the score of the concert’s opening song—tell a story about the Evanston cultural organization and its meaning to the community, Duquet says. Evanston is a northern suburb of Chicago, known as home to Northwestern University and for its location on Lake Michigan.
“Living in Evanston, I have customers who are in the symphony, customers who attend the symphony, and board members who shop here,” Duquet says. “They do an outstanding job—they’re a volunteer organization that feels professional. They’re an institution here. We’re really lucky to have them in Evanston.”
His business, Christopher Duquet, is known for its custom work and honoring a client’s personal story within jewelry design. When an Evanston Symphony Board member asked Duquet to come up with something for the symphony’s 75th anniversary, they started batting ideas around, Duquet says.
Eventually, they settled on a special gift for the symphony’s conductor and music director Lawrence Eckerling, who has been with Evanston Symphony Orchestra for nearly two decades. Duquet began to design a custom baton for him, sketching out some ideas on paper to start.
“It’s a fun challenge—I like to do things that are out of the box or special projects. They really let you extend your creativity,” Duquet says. “Essentially, I had a blank sheet to work with. What do I know about batons?”
Thinking about how the baton is an extension of the conductor’s hands, Duquet says he knew he wanted to keep it light. He also wanted it to hold people’s attention, and that meant adding fine detail and bright finishes.
“I kept the shape close to the classic form of the baton, but I definitely decided I did not want to do something normal. I wanted to do something extraordinary,” Duquet says. “Why not put the music from the score that they’re going to play when they open the 75th anniversary concert? So that’s what I wrapped around the baton.”
That music? Wagner’s overture to Die Meistersinger.
“The conductor sees all the different music for all the different instruments at once. The score becomes fascinating—a graphic, visual pattern,” Duquet says. “The 75th anniversary is the diamond jubilee, so I included diamonds on the badge that went on the baton.”
Finally, Duquet knew he wanted the symphony’s logo on the baton as well, so he added that to the end of it. It is a small detail that can go unnoticed until highlighted and yet is as clever and important as the rest of the overall design.
His design went into the computer, got edited a few times, and was printed as a 3-D model. Duquet then cast its parts in silver, set the diamonds, and then assembled it. Once the finish was perfected, he was ready to deliver it to the orchestra.
The baton will be on display for a time with the symphony, Duquet says, and it truly turned out to be a gift for the Evanston orchestra and the community.
“Everything (in jewelry) should tell a story, evoke a memory, or give you a feeling. Jewelry design should be more than just stones and metal,” Duquet says. “It’s really fun to design with purpose and with a story in mind.”
Top: Jeweler Christopher Duquet used diamonds, silver, and musical inspiration to create a custom baton to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra (all photos courtesy of Christopher Duquet and the Evanston Symphony Orchestra).@jckmagazine
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