The College of Music proudly recognizes four undergraduate students from each class with the Outstanding Student Award each year. Celebrating their hard work and dedication to their education, especially during times like these, these students represent some of the best and brightest that the College of Music has to offer. Meet the College of Music Outstanding Students of 2020!
Freshman, Composition and Bassoon Performance
For freshman Isabel Goodwin, choosing a college to attend among the 10 that she auditioned at and toured came down to deciding which one would support her goals the best. “CU was the one school where I would be allowed to participate in bassoon studio, composition studio, music technology and also outside of music electives,” she says.
Grateful for the flexible and well-rounded environment the College of Music offers, Goodwin has loved her freshman year. “I was a little nervous coming in since you never really know what to expect, especially having moved from out of state to a school where I didn't know anybody. But I have amazing friends, extremely insightful professors and an environment where I feel I belong.” She says her weekly composition lessons with Dr. Pann have been a highlight this year.
When selected for the freshman Outstanding Student Award, Goodwin remembers being honored and inspired to work harder and prove herself— something she’s continuing to do during this period of remote learning.
“Now that we're all at home, I've taken advantage of the time to work on my piano piece, which I actually just finished,” Goodwin says. “It's definitely been a lot harder to be far away from the school, my professors and my friends, but I can only hope to use this time to my advantage. I mean, the commute is awesome!”
This summer, Goodwin hopes to work as a marching tech for her high school. “I love teaching students in sectionals and on the marching field, and it makes me feel good to give back to the band program that put me on the path I am on now.”
Sophomore, Cello Performance
For Ethan Blake, sophomore year has been a busy one full of growth. “Along with getting more settled to Boulder and CU (like living off-campus and playing with more people), it's been a great year for extending my musical presence throughout the area and expanding my musical horizons by learning new styles, new repertoire and playing around with different types of ensembles,” he explains.
One of Blake’s favorite experiences this year was playing in the pit orchestra for the production of “Marriage of Figaro.”
“Although the performances were cancelled, it was still a great experience to have played in rehearsals alongside a wonderful group with Maestro Carthy and the people in the opera program,” he says.
Now that classes have gone remote, Blake is doing his best to stay on top of classwork and practicing cello to keep himself in a good mental headspace. “But I think my mom's cooking is making me gain a few extra pounds,” he jokes.
For the summer, Blake was honored with a fellowship to attend the Aspen Music Festival but is waiting to hear back about potentially shifting plans. “Aside from that, I think this summer I'll plan on getting some more time with my family and friends, learn new music and, depending on when these restrictions might end, explore different parts of Colorado.”
Junior, Flute Performance and Musicology with a minor in Business
Her selection as an outstanding student shocked and humbled junior Claire Gunsbury. “I’ve always felt a tremendous amount of support from the faculty at the College of Music and am proud to be a student here with incredible mentors,” she says.
As a dual major in Flute Performance and Musicology, Gunsbury believes that each of her majors informs the other to create a broad educational experience for her. “Studying flute performance gives me a tangible, personal experience with music that you can’t get from reading a text, and discussing broader topics in musicology has given me a wider perspective on how music interacts with politics, identity, society, and what this might mean for us as musicians.”
Junior year may be flying by for her, but Gunsbury is able to slow down and reflect on all her favorite memories. “One of my favorite things about this year was taking a contemporary dance class— it’s been refreshing to learn something new and experiment with another type of performance art,” she says.
Before classes transitioned to remote learning, Gunsbury and pianist Pedro d’Avila premiered Dianna Link’s fairytale suite for flute and piano titled “Old as Time” at the Persevering Legacy Concert.
“Dianna and I had the idea to create this piece last spring, and each movement depicts a variation of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as told in different cultures around the world,” she explains. “It was so much fun to bring it to life with her and Pedro. The premiere was hands down my favorite performance of the year.”
In this between time, Gunsbury is doing her best to keep up with classes and continue working towards the future. “I’m currently preparing a video of solo flute works in place of my junior recital, planning as much as I can for next year, doing yoga and trying to find different
sources of inspiration,” she says. “I'm grateful that my family and friends are all healthy, and I'm grateful to have them as a support system as we navigate through all the changes.”
For the summer, she tentatively plans to go back home to Minnesota and teach while preparing for graduate school auditions and working on her senior thesis.
“In the process of studying our craft we develop so many versatile skills like adaptability, compassion, patience, grit and curiosity which are all things to really hold on to, especially right now,” Gunsbury reflects. “What I’ve struggled with the most in this time is being kind to myself and taking time to grieve the loss of things, so I suppose that is my advice— take time to do those things. And delight in the little things that may lift you up.”
Senior, Piano Performance and Voice Performance
Since senior Sophia Zervas was in high school, she’s been taking piano lessons with Professor Korevaar, and she couldn’t wait to learn more from him at the collegiate level.
“I was also drawn to the fact that CU offered conservatory-level instruction and training while being part of a larger university,” Zervas says. “Every faculty member in the College of Music is at the top of their field, and the classes I’ve taken outside of the College of Music have also been enriching and made me a more well-rounded person.”
Being a true Coloradan, Zervas was also excited by the opportunity to stay close to the mountains and only be an hour away from her home in Denver. Now a senior, she describes this year as being both hectic and wonderful.
“One thing that I’ve loved about my time at CU has been the openness of the faculty to me pursuing many different musical interests, and this year was no exception,” she explains. “During the fall semester I was preparing for my senior piano recital while working the first chapter of my honors thesis and completing 15 graduate applications. This spring, I had the privilege of playing Barbarina in Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” singing with the Early Music Ensemble, continuing work on my honors thesis and deciding where to go for graduate school. So much has happened in eight months—it’s kind of surreal!”
When she found out she was named the senior Outstanding Student, Zervas couldn’t contain her excitement. “It’s affirming to have hard work and dedication recognized in this way. I have been impressed time after time by the students in the College of Music and their creativity, work ethic and talent—often in multiple areas! There are many others in this class who could have won this award, so to be chosen as this year’s outstanding graduating student is truly a great honor.”
Amid all the recent changes, she admits that there have been a lot of ups and downs. “One of the difficult things to cope with has been the loss of many culminations and celebrations that I had looked forward to at the end of senior year, like my senior voice recital, trips to visit prospective graduate programs and a graduation ceremony.” Though the College of Music commencement ceremony has been moved virtually, Zervas will still be honored at the event, and she is grateful for more time to wrap up her thesis and classes.
In this challenging time for musicians, Zervas encourages her peers to give themselves “grace in finding new routines” and allowing themselves room to cope. “Having something to do every day that you’re passionate about, whether that be a specific practice or studying routine or spontaneous opportunities to Facetime with friends or family, can help restore some normalcy,” she says.
This fall, Zervas is heading to Harvard University to pursue a PhD in Ethnomusicology.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and could not be more thankful to have this opportunity,” she says. “August can’t come soon enough! This summer, I will be taking German and Greek language classes to prepare for my graduate studies. Otherwise, I hope the restrictions will be lifted in time to spend time with friends and family and enjoy Colorado before my move back East.”