Hello! Welcome to my Freshman year in review!
I started off the year with what I still consider to be one of the best decisions I've made in college so far: joining the Hall Opening Team. The force of about 250 of us moved into the dorms an entire week early and enjoyed team building exercises and immediate socialization in preparation to move the thousands of other students into the dorms on move-in day. I still have many great friends from meeting them in that program, and it was nice to start off the year giving back to the school.
I took a total of 15 credit hours first semester, was placed in the CCM Chorale for my choir assignment, and took on three singers to accompany on the piano as a small job on the side of my studies. I wanted to make sure that my schedule was manageable; that I wasn't jumping in to too much right off the bat. Theory class every day of the year at 8am was going to be rough enough. Voice diagnostic auditions was my first major singing event, where each new voice student, undergraduate and graduate, sings separately in Corbett Auditorium in front of the entire voice faculty. That sounds daunting, but the faculty somehow made it fun. While at CCM this year, one of the biggest things I realized about my program is that the voice faculty is VERY unique. While at most conservatories the teachers are all against each other in a sort of competition to see whose studio is the strongest/who is the best teacher, at CCM your teacher is like your second mom or dad, and the rest of the faculty are like your aunts and uncles. I also started pledging a social fraternity a few weeks into the year: Phi Kappa Tau. Though some fraternities become known for having a certain kind of person at each house, what really drew me to Phi Tau was that the brothers could not be more different from each other. We have only a few important things that bring us together, the most central of which is respect for each other. I'm very proud to call them my brothers.
The weekends were full of seeing shows and recitals at CCM. I saw at least one performance each weekend, sometimes two or three or four. I couldn't get enough of all of it. From voice recitals to visiting artists to orchestral performances to the operas to drama shows to the musical theater shows and more, I don't think I'll ever get bored of seeing things at CCM, especially because it's all free (even the mainstage shows, if you do it right). I was even in a couple of my own performances. I was in two undergraduate recitals as a solo performer, and I was in three choir concerts. The first was a concert entirely influenced by Shakespeare's words, the second was a Chorale-only performance of the Brahms "Ein Deutches Requiem", and the third was the traditional CCM Feast of Carols, which I had a solo in. The semester was full of great opportunities and being plenty busy, but was nothing compared to second semester.
I set a big New Years Resolution for myself at the beginning of the semester: get in shape. Weight has always been an issue for me, and I figured that while I was in college, it would be much easier to find a healthy environment of people to be in than at home. I was right. I joined a 6:30am MWF physical conditioning class that put its students right alongside the Army ROTC program in their PT workout. It was every bit as brutal as it sounds. I also resolved to start drinking a gallon of water per day (which lasted maybe 3 weeks) and instituted a modest diet (which thankfully did last, since I didn't make it too intense for me to keep up with).
I took a total of 19 credit hours second semester, bumped up to six singers to accompany, and applied to the University Honors Program, which I was thankfully accepted to, and which got me my nineteenth credit hour. As if that wasn't enough, the director of the CCM Chorale offered me a temporary position at his church as the tenor section leader, and as if THAT wasn't enough, he also offered me a role in the graduate spring studio opera he was directing: L'Incoronazione di Poppea. Now, I was already cast in the undergraduate opera production of Alcina by Händel, which was scheduled for the last weekend in February, because the entire undergraduate program participates. The graduate opera was scheduled for the week before, which meant that every day from February 1st to the opening of Alcina on February 28th, I was scheduled for four hours of rehearsal, sometimes six, sometimes (on the weekends) ten. If first semester was manageable on the busier side, second semester was a flaming pin juggling act. If it wasn't for the very convenient full week off of school in the middle of February due to snow, I could have run into some serious academic trouble.
February made March and April feel like a cake walk. I started my Gateway to Honors course for the University Honors Program and kicked my health into high gear, adding on running on Tuesdays and Thursdays on top of the ROTC course. My performances over the course of the semester included the two operas, another two undergraduate recitals, and three choir concerts - Shakespeare part 2, Berlioz's Te Deum with the Chamber Choir and the CCM Philharmonia, and Brubeck's Gates of Justice with a visiting choir, the brass ensemble, percussion, and jazz trio. My temporary position at one church turned very quickly into a permanent position at a different church thanks to a fellow cast member from the graduate opera who recommended me, and now I am a tenor section leader at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Terrace Park for quite possibly the rest of my undergraduate years. By the end of the semester I had lost more than 40 pounds and five inches off of my waist, which served as a very good start to my probably year long journey of actually getting in shape. My final GPA stands at a Dean's List 3.860. After my end of the year voice board and exams, I was ready for some rest before leaving the country for what would become one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had - a three week long voice seminar in Florence, Italy. The details of that seminar can be found in my "Honors Experiences" page or on my blog page, where a detailed dissemination of the experience is kept. I would say my first year at CCM was everything I could have dreamed it could be, and I fully plan on building upon all of my successes in future years.