Freshman Perspective

June 3rd, 2016

When I practically jumped into the Chorus right after arriving at Cornell, I didn’t know what to expect or what I’d even gotten myself into! My initial impression upon meeting Director Robert Isaacs inspired a sense that this must be a well-trained, well-cultured and well-taught group. I was nervous, but during the audition Robert managed to placate me and even find ways to highlight and explore the strongest parts of my voice. Our new Assistant Director, Steve Spinelli, was there too, smiling at me in the background. After I walked back down the stairs from the audition room, Chris Wolfrom ‘16 and Katherine Minnes ‘16, the Glee Club General Manager and Chorus President at the time, were so encouraging and supportive that I left Lincoln with a grin.

Something I vividly remember from my first few days as a Cornellian was the first Chorus/Glee Club concert I attended as a member of the audience. I have always involved myself in choral groups and appreciated the rush of sound that they produced, but I wasn’t prepared for the simple power and elegance of the group's sound. I was left stunned and teary-eyed, which confused my roommate who was sitting next to me and who had never been involved in vocal music. I realized then just how much I needed to be a part of such an inspiring movement.

I’ve never taken a music theory class. I’ve never developed that perfect “knack” for technique that so many Chorus members possess; I thought for sure, after I finished my first Chorus rehearsal with the entire group, that I would fall flat (no pun intended) compared to the standards Robert had set. Everyone was so talented and everyone could read music; they seemed to pick up on the repertoire so quickly that it left me a little dazed. But to my surprise, after a few months of musical struggles and challenges to my self-acclaimed ability to learn by ear, I found myself coasting through quarter notes like nobody’s business, and my sight reading and intonation have significantly improved, strengthening my confidence as a performer.

Honestly, I didn’t know if I would quite “fit in” at first. The already tight-knit environment was overwhelming and I spent the first few weeks tentatively hovering around the other freshmen. The freshmen first warmed up to the existing members at retreat, when we had the opportunity to bond over shared life experiences and talk late into the night. And then came tour. There’s so much—too much to be said about that insane adventure that I hardly know where to begin or how I would stop. It was my first time venturing outside US borders -- what an absolutely astounding first-time international travel experience!! Not only were the sights and experiences breathtaking, but I truly bonded with some individuals who are now so close to my heart.

Amid our diversity underlies a common passion for vocal music that runs deep and forever permeates our personalities. It’s what connects us and what draws so many different people together. It’s why I’m going to be living with a group of Chorus girls junior year and why I like to hang around after rehearsal to see who can get dinner. I truly love these girls, and I know that together we will grow musically, intellectually, and personally for the next few years and beyond.



Ana Carpenter ‘19