Elina G. Hamilton's maternal grandparents moved to Japan in the 1950s as missionaries. Her grandmother, Eleanor, was one of the first to teach at the Yokohama International School and raised three daughters in the Yokohama region.
Her mother, Ronaele, inspired no doubt by her own mother's teaching, studied to become a teacher herself. After completeing college, she returned to Japan where she taught elementary school at a language school in Karuizawa. It was here where her mother met her father, Daniel, who was learning Japanese. They were married in Karuizawa in 1983.
Their first-born daughter, Elina grew up in the mountains of Nagano. She attended Japanese School and learned to love the beauty of this culture deeply. She won many school awards for her Japanese calligraphy and often came home with perfect scores on her Kanji tests. Spelling, on the other hand, was a little less successful.
At a young age, she learned to play the piano and by the age of 14. she spent most of her spare hours in front of her instrument. Her siblings will remember how she would be too busy to play with them because "she needed to practice."
Alongside her music making, she spent many happy hours working at café Cembalo where she learned the culinary skills of French cooking. Food prepared with their natural and authentic flavors is still something she enjoys thinking through when cooking a good meal.
Deciding to study music in college, she moved to beautiful Portland, OR where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance. It was not long before she knew that four years of education would be too short for acquiring the knowledge she desired.
To attend graduate school, she moved to Wales where, after completing her master’s degree, she was awarded a scholarship to pursue her Ph.D. in medieval music theory.
She is currently Assistant Professor at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.
Michael Scott Cuthbert grew up in Escondido in the suburbs of San Diego, California. His parents, David and Kimiko met in Okinawa where Kimiko was a nurse and and David was in the U.S. Navy during the vietnam war. They were married in 1971 and happily raised a family and built a home together until his mother's untimely death in 2015.
Being naturally unable to walk in a straight line, Michael was encouraged by his mom to join marching band in jr. high, where he chose to play the clarinet (to meet girls). Music stuck with him: he attended Harvard intending not to continue in music, but eventually gave in and ended up staying for twelve years to do a Ph.D. in medieval italian music. His choice of research topics forced him to endure many a summer and two full years traveling through the hills of tuscany, riding a vespa in the streets of rome, and suffering many long italian meals with dear friends.
During school he paid his bills by being a computer programmer, a skill he picked up by being jealous of his older brother's ability to do so, and he's managed to combine a love of music and a love of computers in his work.
After graduating, he stayed in the area to teach, and over the course of a “temporary” twenty-three year sojourn in Boston, he's learned to appreciate the autumn, tolerate the snow, ignore the traffic, and adjust his sleep schedule to still watch the Padres lose.
he is currently Associate Professor of Music and director of digital humanities at MIT.
in 2009 at a conference on Medieval and Renaissance music in Utrecht, Netherlands, a mutual friend alerted Michael that there was a first-time attendee who spoke fluent Japanese and was beautiful. Elina recalls being approached by a dashing professor who warmly welcomed her into the field...perhaps overly friendly?
The next summer they ended up secluded together in northern Italy at Neustift—the “New Monastery,” which will soon celebrate its 900th birthday. Over the course of a week of hearing papers, drinking wine, and bathing in the monastic pool together, their friendship deepened knowing that such conference encounters would continue the rest of their lives. (When Michael said that, it did creep Elina out a bit).
They kept running into each other, giving papers at conferences in Barcelona, Princeton, Certaldo in central Italy, and Southampton in England. Each time the hours of conversation lengthened, the number of glasses of wine increased, and the parting hug lasted just a bit longer than the time before. Between conferences, Facebook allowed them to stay in touch (and to spy on each other), despite the 3000 miles separating them.
In 2013 Elina gave a talk at MIT. While she was in Boston they took a lengthy bike ride along the Charles River, had hot chocolate at the Frog Pond on the Common, and finally came to realize that text messages and Facebook likes weren't going to be enough for them.
Michael came to Wales that New Years Eve and together he and Elina packed up her belongings to move to be together in Boston. Trips together over the next three years to Brussels, Vancouver, West Virigina, Prague, the Grand Canyon, and finally Japan, along with daily meals together, bad movies, and an ever-intertwining web of dear friends, made them realize they wanted to share the rest of their lives together.
Over sushi and sake, Michael proposed on Elina’s 33rd birthday, and she said yes.