In the past few weeks, after my first year of doctoral work at Arizona State University has wrapped-up, I have reflected on the many opportunities I was given and the many more to come in the next school year. As a conducting major, I have worked with many conductors, musicians, and other arts professionals from all over the world. Singing with Jubilant Sykes in Leonard Bernstein's Mass, conducting and collaborating with peers on new music, presenting at conferences in Dublin, Ireland and Boston, MA, and joining the Chandler Children's Choir program are some of the major highlights of my first year at ASU. In the next year, I hope to continue my research in gender justice in all genres and areas of music, as well as move forward with preliminary research for my dissertation (!!!!!). I am extremely grateful for supportive teachers and mentors who have guided me through this process and continue encourage me to follow my dreams.
Summer 2018 has been filled with exploring new scenery, meeting new people, reconnecting with friends, traveling, and pressing the reset button. Starting off with international travel was the perfect way to celebrate past accomplishments and prepare for the future, however, it was just the beginning...
Over the course of the summer, I have reconnected with friends and family that I haven't see in months, maybe even years, because of my work/school schedule. This opportunity to see family and meet the newest members of the family was a reminder of the lineage that I come from and how it has shaped my life. Connecting with past students was also an incredible experience - coming together to celebrate the love and friendship that began during my time at LUHS. Going home before my next big adventure was just what I needed to reflect on the past and renew my energy to pursue the future.
After the 24 hour trip to Arizona with the U-Haul, a packed Jeep, and our pup, I was overjoyed to plant roots in our new home. Spending most of my summer in Phoenix, I can honestly say that I love our new space and community. In just a few weeks, I was able to secure work at Love of Christ Lutheran Church and Henderson Academy of Music. From this experience, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to know what you want. As soon as I decided to move to AZ for graduate school, I knew I wanted to find a church for community and, hopefully, for financial security, as well as a job teaching voice lessons. Musicians these days continue to lean on these types of income to simply pay the bills, so we can also work on other projects. I am so lucky to say that I have found a church home where I feel called to use my musicianship and leadership skills to enhance worship services and encourage the next generation to get more involved.
As the last few days of summer slip by, I am truly grateful for the many opportunities I had to spend with people I love and cherish, as well as meet new people who have already shown me so much generosity. Cheers to the next chapter!
Exactly a year ago, I attended the Feminist Theory and Music Conference in San Francisco, CA. This experience was more than I could have imagined. It was not only the ability to attend a conference that focused on feminist thought and theory that inspired me, but the entire energy of the conference was invigorating and exciting. The discussions, Q&A's, and socials during and after the presentations were fascinating because I was able to observe women, men, gender non-conforming, transgender, straight, gay, and lesbian academics, students, historians, and musicians gather to debate and question the world around us. Not to tear down one another, but to uplift these hard conversations with love. It was over the course of the conference that I decided that I wanted to do more of this... I wanted to research more and learn more and write more. I wanted to be a part of this community that deconstructed social norms and advocate for underserved communities. I am so grateful for Dr. Gibson's mentorship, which encouraged me to apply for this conference. I can't wait for the next one - FTM15!
In the span of 24 hours, I went from walking across the graduation stage to receive my Master's to flying over the Atlantic Ocean to begin a 12-day choir tour to Sweden and Estonia. Since the end of the school year was filled with a whirlwind of events, it was about half way through the 12-day tour that I realized that I had truly graduated. Not just graduated with my degree, but graduated from this chapter in my life. This chapter in my life that was filled with learning and growing - mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally - was now six days away from closing forever. Although I knew I would be taking with me the knowledge and friendships I had accumulated during this time of my life, I also knew that this tour would be the last time I would experience life through the lens of this short chapter called, Mizzou. This realization was humbling, saddening, and exciting.
During my time at Mizzou, I had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant and direct the vocal jazz ensemble, Hitt Street Harmony. For two years, I had the pleasure to work with some of the hardest working singers in the School of Music. The many meaningful performances and discussions I shared with this group will stay with me forever. In addition to my assistantship, I was blessed with fantastic professors that were incredibly interesting and complex. Each of them pushed me in ways I didn't know I needed to be pushed, while also inspiring me by simply being excellent at their craft, whether it be conducting, vocal performance, musicology, or music analysis.
As I adventured through Sweden and Estonia with my best friends, I could only feel grateful for the extra time to create memories, and also say goodbye. Some of the highlights from our time in Sweden include the three concerts (performed in Malmö, Lund, and Stockholm), the after parties with the Swedish choirs, seeing a Led Zeppelin cover band, having lunch in the park, and watching the sunrise almost every morning. The unusually warm weather we experienced while we were there only made it easier to fall in love with the picturesque moments of friendship and fellowship.
By the time the tour concluded in Estonia, I was a hot mess of emotions. Since I had previously toured Tallinn, Estonia with Millikin's University Choir, a flood of memories came rushing into my conscience. Again, these feelings of humility, gratefulness, sadness, and pride continued to tug at my core. I realized my pursuit of happiness, my dreaming, my drive, and my music had put me in the position to travel internationally, meet new and interesting people, and create long-lasting memories. My music, my music, gave me this gift. A gift that allows me to live my fullest life possible.