James Wolter

2020 FMC Graduate Study Scholarship Recipient

Studying at Eastman School of Music

Rochester NY


Thank you to the FMC Endowment Fund for your generosity in helping me financially pursue a doctoral degree in choral conducting at the Eastman School of Music.

The program started for me with two summer sessions that were held digitally: music of the Renaissance and Brahms’s ​Ein deutsches Requiem. ​In addition to personal coachings with Dr.William Weinert and Dr. Jerry Blackstone, I was also able to present to the seminar participants both a walkthrough of ​Nänie ​by Brahms and the life of Vincente Lusitano. In presenting on Lusitano, the first known published composer of color, I also transcribed some of his pieces not readily accessible. From these works, I have uploaded his madrigal “Allor cheignuda” to CPDL for easy access to this neglected composer’s work.

Though the project wasgiven to me in April by Dr. Weinert, it took a whole new level of relevance to our field at large due to the horrific murder of George Floyd in May. Unfortunately, racism has deep roots in many areas including classical music. Therefore, it is our job to continue to diversify our repertoire and confront racism for the benefit of all.

Though COVID-19 has presented challenges and the plans seem to change day to day, we are adapting at Eastman to have smaller ensembles, spaced apart, outside when possible, distanced, wearing masks, and shorter rehearsal times with larger gaps of time between groups to allow for greater air exchange. As of now classes will be virtual to free up larger spaces for lessons and ensembles. Fortunately for me, this includes the opportunity to lead an in-person undergraduate conducting class with ample safety protocols in place.

Thank you again to the FMC Endowment Fund. Kindness begets kindness, and I cannot wait to pay it forward.