Hello! Welcome to my Junior Year in Review!
Junior year began with a very big change - a new teacher! For my first two years at CCM I studied voice with Mary Stucky, but unfortunately she made plans to retire at the end of the 2016-17 school year, so she recommended that I spend a full two years with another teacher. While at SongFest over the summer, I worked with William McGraw, and now I am proud to say that I am part of his full-time studio. From my first lesson with him he showed himself as a vocal technician, a person who can tell exactly what anatomically is hindering you from singing with your most free voice by just listening to you. It's almost like a superpower. So we started the process of helping me open up my head voice and find a more stable resonance, basically flipping my voice inside out so that when I sing I don't judge how I sound by how I hear myself, but by how I feel when I'm singing with the most resonance and clarity.
For Fall semester I again took 18 credit hours, including five credit hours of French class and three credit hours of a political science class entitled "The American Presidency", which was especially interesting to take during a general election. My choir, the CCM Chamber Choir, embarked on learning Rachmaninoff's "All-Night Vigil", which is a set of fifteen a cappella Russian orthodox choral pieces that together form the most ethereal hour of music one can imagine, and I embarked on preparing for a Junior duet recital with my good friend Natalie Sheppard, based on repertoire that we had learned at SongFest. Unfortunately I contracted Mononucleosis in the middle of the semester and we had to postpone the recital (only once, thank God). During all of this, I was also giving tours of CCM three days per week, working as an accompanist for eight singers, and holding my position as the Membership Orientation Officer at my fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau. We initiated two new members from the Spring class at the beginning of the Fall semester and pretty soon had seven new associates for me to teach. I was also busy in rehearsals for this year's undergraduate opera, Albert Herring, which I was playing the title character in.
My Junior duet recital happened on November 1st. For the few days leading up to that, I had felt a soreness in my throat that echoed the Mono that I thought I had gotten over a few weeks before. So just to be sure, I went to urgent care the day before Halloween for a prescription for Prednisone. On the day of the recital I woke up with barely any ability to talk, let alone sing. Natalie brought me to CVS where I bought all kinds of remedies for throat soreness and cold, but in the end I made the decision to take the prescription for Prednisone and sing on steroids. The drug did wonders. While I may not have been at peak condition to perform that night, I was at least able to present. The night was overall a success - we had over a hundred people in attendance and the reception was fantastic. I wasn't able to sing for an entire week after that.
I finished the semester with my lowest GPA yet at 3.57, bringing my cumulative GPA to 3.75, and finished my requirements for general education and language classes, as well as music history, which meant that the next semester I could take a little break! I also sang the national anthem for Winter Commencement, and then sang the national anthem back in Saint Louis for the Veiled Prophet Ball!
In this semester I took only 12 credit hours, giving myself a much needed academic break after the past five semesters. The season started with my first professional recording choir gig! With four hours of rehearsal and nine hours of recording spread over six days, our sixteen-person choir recorded an entire album of completely new choral music. The experience was very unique, as we only sang completely through only one of the around twenty songs we recorded. I was also the only undergraduate student in the ensemble - there were three graduate students, but the rest of the singers were professionals. I will add a link to the album on this page once it becomes available sometime around Christmas 2017. I have a solo at the end of the last song!
The next big thing was the undergraduate opera, Albert Herring! As my first role in an opera, this title character was tough to tackle, as it demands a wide vocal range, an impeccable sense of rhythm and pitch, absolute clarity of text, and humor. Most roles that I learn from this point forward probably won't be so demanding. But the whole experience was great, and the ensemble we created was magical! There are certainly not many undergraduate programs that can so professionally tackle a three hour long Benjamin Britten opera. The week after that, I made a surprise debut as a soloist with the Bach Ensemble of Saint Thomas, which is an ensemble made up of mostly musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra who get together once a month and perform a Bach Cantata. Their tenor soloist had a family emergency, so I was called in to sing instead, and it was a wonderful experience. Soon after that I started coaching the UC Vocaholics A Capella group, and I plan on continuing this habit next school year and making it an honors experience (or two).
Skipping ahead to April, CCM Chamber Choir performed Bach's "Saint Matthew Passion", which is a three and a half hour long oratorio consisting of chorales, arias, and the entire text of the Gospel according to Matthew in German. But the end of the semester is when life got much more interesting. During exam week I played piano for three people's boards, and I found out I was playing for two of those the day before the performance. I have never learned music so quickly. I also performed my own board and gave an audition for next year's undergraduate opera on the same day. So for next year, in our triple bill performance of Menotti's "The Telephone", Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti", and Mark Bucci's "Tale for a Deaf Ear", I will actually be acting as the narrator/host for the entire evening, as well as sing many solo lines in the last opera and at the very end perform a spoken role as a doctor. I'm very excited for this unique role!
I finished Spring semester with a 3.89 GPA, bringing my cumulative GPA to 3.77, and my course load for senior year should be quite manageable, though the year will still be very busy.
On May 7th, I performed again for the JDRF Cincinnatians of the Year Gala, this year with a superhero theme! Myself and two other students performed a mashup of Charlie Puth's "One Call Away" and Mariah Carey's "Hero" as a part of the night's "Fund-A-Cure" segment, which involved a very touching video. I was thrilled to be invited back for that performance after last year, and they said they would let me know as soon as they figure out a theme for next year! The full video with a pre-recorded version of our track is to the right, though we did also perform live at the event.
I also released a pop single! "What We Could Be" is a piano ballad that I wrote last fall and recorded in CCM's studio in April. It is available on all digital music stores, and I have plans to create an album that will include an extended project (EP) of this song.
My to-do list for senior year:
1. Apply to, learn rep for, and audition at graduate schools - right now, CCM, the Curtis Institute of Music, Juilliard, and Boston University are on my list, and I might add a few more.
2. Prepare and perform my senior recital.
3. Complete three honors experiences - hopefully one per semester of work with the UC Vocaholics, and then hopefully as a councilor for YoungArts, which is a program that I participated in when I was a senior in high school at the beginning of January in Miami, FL.
4. Create a pop album that will hopefully be released in mid-March (honors experience idea??)
5. Graduate summa cum laude.