Richard Masters posingWhen I meet with prospective students and their parents in my studio at Virginia Tech, they occasionally notice my diplomas on the wall and ask about my time at Juilliard or Eastman. They never expect the response they get: “The best education I received was at the University of Colorado Boulder.” I could cite my amazing peers, the beautiful campus, the excellent libraries or the diverse electives I was able to take as a student at a large university. But ultimately, the most important facet of my time at CU Boulder was being able to interact with the many wonderful faculty in the College of Music.

My applied piano teacher, Robert Spillman, taught me much about playing the piano. He also gave me the opportunity to play opera and musical theatre, allowing me to play several shows with him the summer after freshman year. He encouraged me to explore accompanying and helped prepare me for graduate school auditions. Many of the formative concerts I heard in Boulder featured Bob at the piano or on the podium: my first Hugo Wolf liederabend, the first Schumann Fantasie, the final three Beethoven sonatas, first Bach Mass in B minor … the list goes on. I now strive to emulate Bob, not only as a multifaceted performer but also as a teacher: He shared his knowledge generously, with compassion and good humor.

During my first-ever freshman year rehearsal with the wind ensemble, Allan McMurray sat next to me while I played the piano part for Joseph Schwanter’s and the mountains rising nowhere, teaching me the modern score with patience and grace while helping me to avoid any musical catastrophes. The late Akira Endo was a kind mentor who trusted me with many orchestral piano parts, giving me invaluable training that would later pay off in my work as an opera coach. David Korevaar was an inspiring performer whose solo recitals were among the most memorable of my time in Boulder.

Thomas Riis and Rebecca Maloy were inspiring music history professors who gave thoughtful and thorough critiques of my writing. I accompanied in the studios of singers and instrumentalists such as Curt Peterson, Julie Simson, Daniel Silver, William Stanley, Robert Harrison and many others, all of whom were kind enough to coach a young accompanist alongside their own pupils. Violist Erika Eckert gave me a coaching on the Liszt B minor sonata, which provided new insights into that work that I might not have received from a piano professor.

Now that I’m a professor myself, I understand the amount of work that goes into mentoring students and helping them to reach their full potential as musicians. I am grateful for every one of my teachers at CU Boulder, and I am proud to be a graduate of the College of Music.