Introducing the First-Year Conductors

I know, I know…it’s almost the end of the semester and I’m still doing introductions!  Well, better late than never, as they say.  So you’ve met my four housemates, with whom I spend half my time, and now you get to meet my 3 conducting colleagues, who claim the other half of my time!  Each year, the Yale Choral Conducting program takes 4 students, though this number is not necessarily set in stone.  Sometimes there will be an extra MMA student or two, but this year, we are four MM (Masters of Music) students:

Adrianna (pronounced ay-dree-ah-nuh) just graduated this past spring with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music from MIT.  Weird, I know.  She thought she was going to become a doctor or something when she first started, but her musical talent and passion is too good to ignore, so when she was a junior in college, she decided to pursue conducting.  Secretly, she actually wants to be an Asian pop star – a hobby which she exercised in college while singing with an a cappella group she helped to found, Syncopasian.  Adrianna is most well-known among her peers for her contagious smile and joyfulness on the podium, ballet gestures when conducting, cluelessness to Rob’s inappropriate jokes, and habit of being late.

Rob is well-known for his inappropriate jokes, which he will say are not nearly as bad as his friends from Eastman, where he graduated with a degree in music education in 2010.  After graduating, he stayed in Rochester, NY teaching voice lessons.  He is perhaps equally as passionate about singing as he is about conducting; he thought about going to grad school for voice.  Good thing he ended up choosing a conducting program that sings 20 hours a week.  When Rob isn’t conducting, he’s usually pelting me with tennis balls as I successfully stand in the line of his serve.

Caleb looks like Clark Kent and is a 2009 grad from James Madison University in Virginia.  He studied music education and loves applying the elementary school skills he learned to teaching grad students (…amazing how that works!).  Caleb became Episcopalian later in his life, and in a moment of soul-searching, ended up signing on for a year with the Episcopal Servant Corps (similar to LVC) here in New Haven.  He lived in community and worked at Christ Church with their soup kitchen.  While here, he sang in a few choirs and was convinced to apply to the conducting program, though those were never his original plans.  Et voila!  He got in, and his life is taking a new direction.  Things that keep Caleb grounded include: cooking, biking, being social, dancing, dating, and spending time outside.

The four of us are joined by four second year conductors:

Miles came to Yale straight from undergrad at Harvard.  His first impression is that he is super nice, incredibly smart, and hard-working.  His second impression is basically the same as his first, but be careful of his sarcasm and wit!

Sarah also came straight to Yale from undergrad at Hartt.  She plays every instrument and speaks every language and has perfect pitch and lots of other crazy skills.  She also likes tattoos and piercings and listening to metal.

Noah has been at Yale for too long to count.  He did an MM in organ here before starting his MM in conducting.  And he’s probably going to stay another year to get an MMA.  He types really fast (…is ranked nationally) and makes really bad jokes all the time.

Simon is basically a famous organist from England who happens to be here studying conducting.  He wants to blend in as American, but his cowboy boots don’t disguise his British accent.

All 8 of us get along quite well, considering we were all thrown into this program together from a variety of places!  We spend almost all of our time together, and when we have a night off from rehearsal, we often spend that together too…just for fun!  It’s a bit crazy, but the intense community here is one of the things that drew me to this program.  A lot of conducting programs have a strongly competitive vibe, but because of the collaborative nature of the ISM, we have no choice but to get along and work together.  So, as Thanksgiving approaches, I read through this blog post and my last, and I express deep gratitude for the wonderful new relationships I’ve come into since August.  School rules!


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