Meet the Musician: Jennifer Walton
From concert violinist to Hollywood agent
Violinist Jennifer Walton not only grew up in a musical family, but practically grew up onstage performing professionally. She was born in Antwerp, Belgium, to American parents. The family was living in Europe while her father, composer John Biggs, was studying at the Royal Flemish Conservatory and writing his second symphony. The family soon returned to their native Hollywood Land, where Jennifer started violin at age 3 and piano at age 5. Her mother, Grammy Award winning vocalist and arranger, Salli Terri, sang on eight solo albums and numerous iconic movie soundtracks such as Mary Poppins, Blue Hawaii, and Indiana Jones. Ms. Terri also was one of the main soloists for the Roger Wagner Chorale. Together Salli and John trained their two daughters, Jennifer and Adrienne, in all aspects of music, eventually hiring them for the John Biggs Consort, which performed and toured all over the world. For Jennifer, being 14 years old and traveling from Asia to South America, Taiwan to Chile and everywhere in between giving concerts, the experience created “memories for a lifetime”.
Jennifer attended California State University, Fullerton on a piano scholarship, double majored briefly, and then earned her Bachelor's Degree in Violin Performance, all the while teaching private violin, piano, theory, and composition lessons to students of all ages. After college she continued to perform in orchestras, including Downey Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Inland Empire Symphony Orchestra, Burbank Symphony, Glendale Pops, Pasadena Pops, Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra, Bel Canto Opera Company, Sierra Consort, Mozart Camerata, South Coast Symphony, Orange County Symphony, West Los Angeles Symphony, Classical Concert Chamber Orchestra, San Bernardino Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Opera, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, and many more. She has also played on over 100 major motion picture movie scores, as well as having worked with such pop icons as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Faith Hill, Barry Manilow, Josh Groban, and Burt Bacharach. Yet Ms. Walton didn’t just record on soundtracks, but found herself frequently appearing on the screen in the role of “a violinist” on such television shows and movies as Friends, Seinfeld, Beverly Hills 90210 and Get Smart. This led her to start Instrumental Casting in 2008, an exclusive boutique agency representing musicians and instrumentalists for on-camera film, commercial and television work. Jennifer had noticed a need; so often actors were hired to look like they were playing an instrument, and quite often it was obvious they didn’t know how. “Why not hire the real person?” she thought. For authenticity’s sake, even if the performer isn’t actually playing or is only in the background, it matters having someone who knows what they are doing. Through Instrumental Casting Jennifer has booked hundreds of her friends and colleagues for on-camera work in film, t.v. and commercials. But she didn’t stop there. Noticing another need, she created Collective Media Guild in 2014, a contracting company working to bring recording work back to Los Angeles. The new company is called CMG Music Recording. Starting in the 2000s, it became common for studios to outsource musicians and scores to save money, since they often didn’t have to pay residuals to musicians overseas. This practice hurt a lot of career studio musicians in Los Angeles. CMG Music Recording is working to change this, and has grown 1250% in just the last year.
Jennifer has two sons, Nick, an aerospace engineer and Captain in the Air Force, and Oliver, a professional cellist and actor. She especially enjoys it when the opportunity arises for her to work with Oliver and carpool to the gig.
Amidst all the studio sessions, stage concerts, filming, contracting and managing other artists, Jennifer Walton is still a devoted member of the California Philharmonic string section. “Victor’s rapport with the audience is unmatched,” she says of Maestro Vener. “He has his finger on the pulse of what people want to hear.” She appreciates how Dr. Vener makes everyone feel welcome at concerts which encourages people to keep coming back. Even after all the glamour of a career as a Hollywood agent and performing artist, Jennifer Walton proclaims that “playing with the Cal Phil is a highlight like no other.”