Creativity Institute funds student performances at Carnegie Hall
October 2, 2006 —
Arriving late to the interview, a typically cheerful Dale Huggard asks, "Has your computer ever crashed? It's basically like your house burning down."
The fourth-year music student takes a deep breath and a seat on the floor of fellow student musician Shana Hiser's Village apartment, where she has been patiently awaiting his arrival so they can explain their adventure to New York City's Carnegie Hall last spring.
Back when Huggard's computer was still up and running, the two ambitious music education majors were awarded over $3,300 total through SVSU's Student Research and Creativity Institute to fund their trip to perform with the National Wind Ensemble, for which Huggard played clarinet and Hiser played French horn.
"The Institute is awesome," third-year student Hiser praises. "It gives you the opportunity to do stuff you'd never get to do. I never dreamed I'd get to do this. I never dreamed in a million years I'd get to perform at Carnegie Hall, but I did."
To be awarded funding through the Institute, Huggard and Hiser had to write up and submit a proposal to the selection committee, which consists of one representative of each of SVSU's colleges and is coordinated by Executive Assistant to the President Carlos Ramet.
"Gosh, the proposal was practically a book it was so long," Hiser recalls, laughing. "It was pages and pages. We had to formulate a budget, explain why we wanted to do this..."
"And we had to submit letters of recommendation and show how our trip would benefit the University," Huggard jumps in. "We knew it would help the University's music department just by saying, 'Look, a total of five students now have performed at Carnegie Hall.'"
While Huggard and Hiser were in New York from May 25-30, they stayed and rehearsed in the Hilton with the 75 other university and high school students who were also part of the ensemble.
Chosen from hundreds upon hundreds of student musicians throughout the country, the ensemble was the result of a tough selection process that required each player to audition by turning in an 8-10 minute recorded audition sample. Huggard and Hiser were the only students in the ensemble from Michigan.
On performance night, the program was directed by Detroit Chamber Winds Conductor H. Robert Reynolds and took place on the main stage, where Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky had served as the hall's grand opening night conductor 115 years prior. Huggard and Hiser, who had lots of family in the audience, say they were awestruck to perform but surprisingly not nervous.
"When I walked in I was just like 'whoa,'" Hiser admits, as Huggard nods in agreement. "I just stood there for a minute and was like 'holy cow.' Seriously. I think everyone who walked in had the same reaction. It's just beautiful."
Huggard enjoyed the performance so much that he has since decided to possibly switch his major from music education to music performance. His ideal career situation would be to teach in a clarinet studio of a college or university and then to also play in a large symphony.
Hiser's dream is to teach high school and middle school music classes, specifically focusing on the marching band and jazz band. She also wants to play in a symphony, "even if it's just in a small community orchestra," she says, smiling.
Speaking on the subject of SVSU's music program, Huggard and Hiser show nothing but admiration. They describe how they love it because it's small, personal, and concentrated on helping students become successful in their chosen field of music. They both claim to owe their trip to Carnegie Hall largely to their faculty advisors: Linda Hargett for Huggard and Bill Wollner for Hiser.
"Playing music just makes you feel so good," Hiser acknowledges. "Whenever something's going wrong you can just pick up your instrument and play. I just think music is so important in life and for all kids. That's why I want to teach it. Music and life go together, ya know? And I want to help teach that to people so they can appreciate it."
"Yeah, and I'm doing a recital on Dec. 5," Huggard adds.
"There you go," Hiser laughs, "get a little PR in there.”