They’re all very different, but each of them gives me joy.
I’m not here because of the money. [laughs] Part of it is, to be honest, the connection with the Mennonite church. Four-part hymn singing is an incredibly unique product of our church, one that few denominations worldwide have. We need people in leadership to continue the legacy of this art form, and I want to be in a place where that tradition is fostered and continued. Goshen is that place.
In Goshen and Elkhart, there’s a love for the choral arts. The programs here are strong. Goshen High has had excellent choirs for years, and there’s singing in the churches here that’s wonderful. People come out and support choral music-making here, and we have the best hall in the country for that.
It is unusual that a community our size has a jewel like Sauder Hall.
I started to look for jobs after graduate school. My first job, I taught at Western Mennonite School in Oregon. I followed that with a doctorate from Michigan State in conducting, then landed my dream job at Goshen College. The stars aligned.
I would say I did not consider music as a profession until college. I was doing sort of a biology major/pre-med route at Goshen College. I took music because I enjoyed it, but also to make my resume look more interesting to med schools.
But as an undergrad, I started voice lessons for the first time and loved them. I was still planning on going on to be a doctor, but I got on stage in a show – The Pirates of Penzance – and it turned my world upside down.
I fell in love with being in front of a crowd, and I fell in love with singing.
In the summer – and this is true for all choral directors – they plan and dream about the following year. It takes a gob of time to prepare a program. What music moves you? What kind of literature are you using to teach your singers about choral singing? Who do you have in your ensemble? Who don’t you have that you need? There are so many considerations!
For Camerata, we are excited to be partnering with Elkhart Symphony to sing Beethoven’s ninth symphony and ‘The Ode to Joy.’
We’ve had such a dark time with Covid and the stifling of the arts, and we need to be back doing it! And what a piece to be doing, too, within what continues to be such a dark time, with issues of racism, gun violence, and climate change. The list goes on and on, but we need to be adding our voices to those issues.”