Someone recently called me an “ISM baby”. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but that’s a new one (though it probably won’t be the last time…)! It probably means nothing to you, so I thought I’d unpack it a bit as a way to explain this new direction in my life.
Beginning in high school, I decided I wanted to study early vocal music at Boston University for graduate school. Weird, I know. That decision mostly came out of the fact that I loved singing early music with my vocal quartet – The Diminished Fifths – and was totally inspired by the Anonymous 4. Plus I loved Boston, which I’ve only visited once (on a family vacation). My parents knew of my interest in studying early vocal music. I remember clearly the day that they gave me some publication from Yale that had an article about a new early vocal music program, started by Simon Carrington. The program was called Voxtet – 8 singers that sing together and as soloists, as well as in a 24-voice ensemble called Schola Cantorum. It looked awesome! I dreamed of my fellow quartet friend Chelsie singing in the Voxtet with me.
Here’s the thing: my parents went to Yale. They both did Masters degrees there (my mom received a Masters in Organ and my dad, a Masters in Theory/Composition). That’s where they met and fell in love and, well, the rest is history. So perhaps the “baby” part of my new nickname is making more sense now, but what does ISM stand for?
The Institute of Sacred Music (ISM) is a really confusing school of graduate studies at Yale. It has taken me months to start to understand how it all works! Essentially, it’s an interdisciplinary department. No one is registered through the ISM alone; if you’re studying at the ISM, you’re also registered through either the School of Music or the Divinity School. Things you can study through the ISM include choral conducting (my program), organ, sacred art, sacred literature, and liturgical studies. Anyone who goes to the Yale Institute of Sacred Music goes for free.
My parents were students in the early days of the ISM. In fact, my mom was in the first ISM graduating class! So – alas! – I am an ISM baby. The thing is, I never thought I would be a legacy child. Boston University was in my future! I even applied and got accepted and offered a full ride plus some! But in the end, my footsteps have taken me here. And the best news of all is that it feels like the right place for me to be.
So, here I am at Yale getting a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting through the Institute of Sacred Music (jointly with the School of Music)! It’s a 2-year program with 8 conductors (4 each year). It has been a whirlwind of a time so far, and I have much to share! Classes officially start tomorrow, though I’ve already participated in a week-long music history review class, taken multiple placement exams, and sat in on hours and hours of choir auditions. I can’t wait to tell you all about my 3 conducting colleagues. I also can’t wait to tell you about my 4 housemates! There’s lots to say and an increasingly busy schedule, but I’ll do my best to blog frequently. I hope everyone’s doing well out there! Please excuse me for being a bit distant! And feel free to write me at my new address:
20 Avon St.
New Haven, CT 06511