Last year I was awarded a full-time graduate study scholarship which has been approbation of my work so far and helped me achieve my personal goals of attending graduate school to refine my conducting technique while gaining as many new musical experiences as possible.
Choral singing has been part of my life since I became a member of The St. John’s Boys’ Choir in 1997. Thanks to my piano teacher who recommended the choir and my parents (a chemistry professor, and a nurse) who encouraged that adventure, my life was changed forever. I was locked in on the path of music. Going into sixth grade, already in my fourth season with SJBC, I joined the band at Discovery Middle School as a percussionist. When I reached St. Cloud Apollo High School I joined the orchestra as a percussionist and the jazz band as a pianist. As a piano student at St. John’s University, I worked as the Pianist and Music Director at Living Waters Lutheran Church in Sauk Rapids, MN. It was there that I got my first experiences with choral conducting. While attending St. John’s I was fortunate enough to study choral conducting with Dr. Axel Theimer.
After graduation I accompanied the Junior Varsity Choir of SJBC and two years later I was hired on as the Associate Artistic Director where I was privileged to direct the JV Choir and head the comprehensive musicianship program. As a growing performer and conductor I decided that it was time to focus my career path and determined that graduate school was the next step. I have been incredibly lucky to have worked with and studied under so many quality conductors who were able to provide guidance in selecting a program. Their expert guidance helped me market my skill sets to be a successful candidate and pointed me towards multiple renowned programs. This is how I took the next step on my musical path at the University of Kentucky where I studied under the Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Jefferson Johnson.
Having been married only a few months before moving to Lexington, KY I was concerned about the financial aspects of leaving our professions in Minnesota, moving across the country, and becoming a full-time student again. Despite receiving a full graduate assistantship from the University of Kentucky, there were still fees to cover for summer sessions, cost of living expenses, moving expenses, and general bills with which to contend. Being a recipient of an FMC Graduate Study Scholarship helped provide some stability and confidence heading into this new adventure. The scholarship helped me participate in a program where I was able to sing a Bach motet in Carnegie Hall; conduct, sing, and play at the closing concert of the 2016 Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses National Seminar; as well as prepare and conduct numerous works with top ensembles at the University of Kentucky. In addition to the conducting experiences, I was able to dive into the “Credo” of Mozart’s Coronation Mass KV 317 and study his masterful text painting for a tonal theory course. I also took a graduate vocal pedagogy course with a focus on anatomy which was something I desperately needed considering my undergraduate piano performance degree. These classes, along with many others, were an incredible opportunity for personal and musical growth.
I am so grateful to everyone who donates to the FMC Endowment Fund for making these scholarships possible. The experiences I have had at UK are an invaluable part of my musical growth and journey, and truly, without the help of the FMC Graduate Study Scholarship and the strong network of ACDA-MN support it might not have been possible. If you have yet to give, I would urge you to consider the FMC Endowment Fund and the Alice T. Larsen Memorial Fund in their efforts to provide graduate study scholarships to women choral conductors.