Hometown: Northampton, Massachusetts Major: Philosophy Minor: Music performance Certificate Program:Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology Activities: The College Voice, Philosophy Club, Hillel House
Favorite aspect of Connecticut College:
Whatever you want to do with your life, you can do it here at Conn. Even with our small size, we have many professors who will go the extra mile to help you achieve your goals as well as a campus with very diverse interests. Our faculty is interested in everything. If you don’t know someone who shares your interests, just ask anyone you do know, and they’ll point you in the right direction. I have new and stimulating experiences every day through my relationships with people all over this campus!
Favorite memory at Connecticut College:
Playing principal clarinet in the pit during the opening night of the College’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Carousel. It was a moment when seven weeks of hard work, long nights, and many discussions on the direction of the show finally paid off, and it was a pinnacle of a freshman year with many high points. We also hosted a group of scholars and professionals whose work involved Carousel, so getting to play for them and hear their opinions on and experiences with the show was a real treat! One of the things about the spring musical that’s unique to Conn is that it involves the music, dance, and theater departments; it’s a great way of getting a lot of students including myself involved in the production who might otherwise miss out on the opportunity.
Favorite activity in New London or the region:
Catching a film or show at the Garde Arts Center, a beautiful old movie palace and auditorium in the center of town.
As I write this post, I’m sitting in my room, listening to the Broadway recording of the musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” on YouTube. Just over 24 hours ago Connecticut College’s student theater community, Wig & Candle, closed their production of that play in Palmer 202, a black box theater and classroom space that is often used for student productions. The production was so popular that we had to add an additional late night performance. Although I have regularly attended Wig and Candle’s performances, this was my first time actually participating in one; I played clarinet in a reduced pit band of two.
There are many concerts and recitals at the end of each semester, produced by the music and dance departments, student bands or a capella groups, SAC (Student Activities Council), or any of the myriad student groups here. I should know because I usually end up playing in a few of the ones that the music department runs. For me, it’s a bittersweet moment in the semester. Playing in concerts is a fun and invigorating experience, but it’s usually time-consuming with rehearsals and preparation for each performance. It’s also a sign that the semester is getting close to the dreaded finals period. However, playing a concert is about more than just jumping onto the stage of Evans Hall. There are a lot of little things that go into it.
Touring colleges as an admitted student, when I knew that I could study at any of the fabulous schools I was looking at, made me examine them a little differently. Instead of deciding whether a school had given a good enough presentation for me to add it to my growing list of places to apply to, I was able to spend my time looking for small things that would influence my decision.
This past summer, I had an amazing opportunity to write program notes for the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra (ECSO), a professional symphony orchestra that performs at the Garde Arts Center in downtown New London. Program notes are typically blurbs in the programs classical music concerts that tell the audience the history of the music they’re about to hear, and what they should look out for when listening to it. Through my work with the symphony, I’ve been able to make important professional connections and learn more about the world of arts administration, all while writing about and listening to some great music.
This past fall I was accepted to the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology as a student scholar. The Center is one of the five academic centers on campus, which provide resources to students and faculty doing interdisciplinary work on a specific subject. This is the second in a regular series of posts I’ll be writing during spring semester about finding my path as a new member of the Center (read post 1).
This election year is an incredibly important and educational moment for the country and in my Conn experience. Like many of my fellow Camels, this is my first time voting in a major election, and I enjoy the support that we as students give each other as we make important decisions about casting our ballots. If you have the opportunity to vote this election you may feel, like I do, that selecting candidates who will do the things that you want them to do is tough, no matter how clear the outcomes appear. I have had several conversations with friends about the importance of learning about the candidates and issues when voting, no matter how polarized our politics. These conversations are important as I learn about becoming an informed and responsible citizen.
As I’ve mentioned previously, this summer I was the public relations intern at The Glimmerglass Festival, an internationally acclaimed summer opera festival near the Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York. Glimmerglass presents four fully staged operas each season and many other events including recitals and lectures. My internship had many responsibilities, especially after the season began. I wore many varied hats including assisting with media communications and being the point person for the lost and found.
This semester I decided to compete in the Concerto Competition, which gives one winning student the opportunity to be featured in the Connecticut College Orchestra Spring Concert performing a concerto or vocal piece every year. My clarinet professor, Kelli O’Connor, and I had made a somewhat spur-of-the-moment decision in late January that I should enter it this year, so I could experience competing in it.
“You must be the change you wish to see.” – M. K. Ghandi
I live my life by this quote because it challenges me to take action to make the world a better place. Its philosophy is also a driving force behind Green Dot training here on campus, which I recently completed. Green Dot is a national organization that works to prevent power-based personal violence, such as sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking, in communities throughout the country. I’m glad that Connecticut College has a robust Green Dot chapter, with about a quarter of students who have undergone training. My friends who completed the training encouraged me to do it for months, so when I got an email about a session that worked with my schedule, I signed up for it.
For two weeks in November, Connecticut College Asian & Asian American Students in Action (ASIA) hosted ORIGINS: An Asian Arts Festival, a first for both the club and Conn. The festival brought many amazing cultural opportunities to campus, including a lecture by internationally renowned Chinese artist Xu Bing, a food making workshop, and a student art exhibition in Coffee Grounds, one of the coffee houses on campus.
Perhaps the passage I felt most at home within this summer’s Connecticut College reading, Yaa Gyasi’s graceful historical fiction novel “Homegoing,” came in the very last chapter of the book, which focuses on Marcus, a graduate student working on his doctoral thesis at Stanford University. A few pages into the chapter, the narrator explains that “Originally [Marcus had] wanted to focus his work on the convict leasing system that had stolen years off of his great-grandpa H’s life”. However, the narrator goes on to explain that Marcus felt he would also have to write about the Great Migration, which his grandparents participated in when they moved from Pratt City in Birmingham, Alabama, to Harlem in New York City. Writing about the Great Migration would in turn make Marcus feel he should also write about histories that had affected his father’s and his lives, specifically the effects of heroin, crack-cocaine and the war on drugs in Harlem.
One of the strange, interesting, and unexpected experiences I have each semester at Conn is making connections across classes that initially appear to be completely unrelated. I believe that doing this is in keeping with Conn’s nature as a small liberal arts college. Many of my classes draw students from a wide variety of backgrounds and majors, which means that I get to hear how those students draw connections between their interests and the class subject material such as a biology major’s take on Aristotle’s De Anima. There are plenty of subjects that I’ll never take classes in, but I still hear how they connect from students who are passionate about them. Part of the aim of our new curriculum, Connections, is to get all students to look at the similarities between seemingly unrelated subjects. I’m envious of future Conn students because I wish I could experience some of the ways Connections will continue to transform the way we learn. The curriculum was launched in 2016, so this year’s incoming class will be the first to experience it throughout their four years.
As our nation works to understand the implications of the election results, students throughout the country have been meeting with deans and other administrators to discuss its impact. Here at Conn our administration has been proactive in learning about the needs of our community. The day after the election, less than twelve hours after Donald Trump was declared president-elect, I attended Lunch with the Deans with Jefferson Singer, John McKnight, and Victor Arcelus, the deans of the College, Institutional Equity & Inclusion, and students respectively.
On Wednesdays and Fridays I volunteer as a mentor at Jennings Elementary School in New London with Enrichment, a program sponsored by Connecticut College Community Partnerships. Through this program I help students in third, fourth and fifth grade work on improving their math skills. Since coming to Conn, I have become very interested in the philosophy of education and the impact education has on people. I decided to volunteer to learn more and broaden my views about education.
I’ve written before about my plans to study away from Conn. Next semester I will be studying at the IES Abroad Vienna Music Program in Austria, but right now, as I enter into the final days of the fall semester, I’m focused on completing my obligations at Conn and making plans for the future. One major part of my pre-study away planning process has been the Office of Career and Professional Development’s Junior Year Action Plan. The plan helps me prepare for the College’s funded internship program next summer.
It was worth getting up at 7:45 in the morning (a time normally too early for me to be out in public) on Friday, September 29, 2017 (or the 9th of Tishrei, 5778 by the reckoning of the Jewish calendar), to catch the train from New London’s Union Station. The reason: For the first time since senior year of high school, I was going to be home for Yom Kippur. I wanted to arrive in Springfield, Massachusetts, early so that I would be home well before the beginning of the holiday at sundown.
One recent Thursday morning, the stars finally aligned for us to hold a sectional rehearsal for the orchestra’s clarinetists. No other wind instruments and definitely no strings present! It was just Scott, the other clarinetist, our professor, Kelli O’Connor, and me running through orchestral music together. One of the pieces we’re playing in orchestra this semester is the impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite.” As is typical of his works, it features complex, mystifying and beautiful harmonies. Part of our job in a sectional is to learn to get these harmonies in tune, which helps the orchestra sound better.
One Thursday morning this semester, the stars finally aligned for us to hold a sectional rehearsal for the orchestra’s clarinetists. No other wind instruments and definitely no strings present! It was just Scott, the other clarinetist, our professor, Kelli O’Connor, and me running through orchestral music together. One of the pieces we played in orchestra this semester is the impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite.” As is typical of his works, it features complex, mystifying and beautiful harmonies. Part of our job in a sectional is to learn to get these harmonies in tune, which helps the orchestra sound better.
Recently I had the opportunity to supertitle a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Stonington-based Salt Marsh Opera (SMO). This means I was in charge of projecting translations of the opera’s lyrics, which were sung in Italian, above the stage so the audience could understand what the singers were saying. Supertitling an opera is an extremely challenging task that I’m glad I had the opportunity to perform. It requires following along with the singers, conductor and score through almost the entire performance while projecting the correct title at each prescribed moment. It’s almost like playing percussion in an orchestra because of the precision required in being on cue and in sync with the rest of the performers. Needless to say, the intense concentration needed for the three-hour performances made it a very exhausting but fulfilling task.
When I discuss writing essays with my friends in other majors, one of the things we talk about is the style and conventions expected from our professors and department. This can be something as basic as what sort of citation style we use, such as Turabian (my personal favorite), MLA, APA or ASA to specific grammatical and structural issues we encounter when writing our papers. For example, in music, there is a difference between a piece that is “for oboe and clarinet” and “for clarinet and oboe”; the first instrument plays higher than the second. One of the subjects I really enjoy writing for is my major: philosophy. Part of what I enjoy about writing papers for philosophy is that I’m allowed to write in the first person, which is unusual in academic writing.