Originally from Dallas, Texas, Isabel Goodwin chose to continue her musical and academic career at the University of Colorado Boulder. Currently a third-year student at the College of Music, Goodwin is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in bassoon performance and composition.
In this Q&A, she shares her experience at the College of Music, including how faculty support and inspire her, how to transcend and gain creativity from difficult circumstances, and advice for prospective students on creating a successful portfolio for admission.
What inspires you as a composer?
For me, inspiration has been hard to come by recently. The pandemic took a big toll on my mental health, but it’s also given me the opportunity to have deeper connections with my professors, and talk about the things that really matter to me as a person and as a musician. I’ve definitely drawn a lot of inspiration from my bassoon professor and my composition professors. They’ve given me perspective and have made me a better student, musician and person. I’ve also drawn inspiration from my friends. I actually just had a piano work premiered called Pedro and Indigo that I wrote about two of my best friends!
What opportunities do you get for your works to be performed? And do you get opportunities for commissioned work?
There are lots of opportunities to showcase our compositions, like at the monthly Pendulum New Music concerts. There are also in-house composition awards and commissions that are given out every year. Composition students have the opportunity to write works for professional ensembles like the ~Nois Saxophone Quartet. Also, as you progress in your degree program and meet people at various events, you have opportunities to get your name out there. I just got a commission for a flute quartet from some friends in Wisconsin, which I’m super excited about!
In what ways has the faculty supported you in growing as a composer?
The College of Music faculty is my favorite part of being here. Each year, we switch composition professors so we become well-rounded in our private lesson education. Each of my professors has been immensely supportive of my creative visions and aspirations. Most importantly, they’ve been supportive to me as a person who’s growing and learning to exist in a post-pandemic world. I am immensely grateful to Dr. Pann, Dr. Drumheller and Dr. Theodore for being such important mentors to me these past few years.
What have you done as a composition student at the College of Music that you’re especially proud of and why?
I am most proud of my most recent premiere, a piano four-hands piece called Pedro and Indigo. I had two amazing pianists premiere the work at the October Pendulum New Music concert and I am so proud of the recording! Hearing them play a piece I spent so much time writing reminded me of why I love to compose: I write music for people to listen to and enjoy!
What advice would you give a prospective music student hoping to prepare a successful portfolio?
To any students wanting to create a portfolio to apply to study composition, I would say include your best works, regardless of the type of “ensemble!” It doesn’t have to be only string quartets or piano pieces, it can also be hard rock ballads and techno music. The professors want to see passion and a willingness to learn, so include the things you’re most passionate about!