Before beginning her vocal performance, senior Shelbea Fordham, a general music major, cleared her throat, took a sip of water and expertly maneuvered the music stand to her liking. She pressed a single key on the piano to find the correct pitch and began singing with ease.
Fordham is one of about 10 students who received a music scholarship for the 2018-19 school year, an accomplishment she described as extremely rewarding.
The music scholarship fund would not be possible without donations from the public made at performances such as the “Hidden Gems and Beloved Classics” recital that took place on Aug. 28.
Such performances are free and open to the public, but the department encourages $5 donations to benefit the GC Music Scholarship fund.
The recital featured performances from Bradley Sowell, a voice professor at GC, and his friend and colleague from graduate school Dana Carlson, who is a teacher and performer. Lev Ryabinin played piano as an accompanist.
“There’s going to be a fun energy to this concert,” Sowell said. “We are very good friends and have always wanted to do a recital together. The energy and excitement are very tangible, and there will be a sense of joy on stage from finally getting to do this together.”
Sowell said that applicants who receive music scholarships take pride in their performance as well as their academics.
Fordham, a former student of Sowell’s, used her passion for singing and career aspirations to fuel her desire to receive the scholarship. She said the application process was intimidating but rewarding in the end.
Fordham has been singing since elementary school and has known from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in music. This scholarship is a helpful stepping stone toward that goal.
Fordham’s passion for her art made for an engaging performance. As she sang, the look of joy on her face revealed that she loved what she was doing.
“Shelbea is one of the most talented artists in the music department,” said Arianna Baxter, Fordham’s friend and fellow performer. “She has a way of bringing characters to life even when she is just singing solos for a recital performance.”
Both Sowell and Fordham said the best part of GC’s music department is the familial bond that comes from being part of a group that shares a love for creating sound.
“We often have class sizes as small as eight students, whereas at large conservatories you might have classes with up to 30 students, so students are able to receive very personalized educations here at GC,” Sowell said.
The GC Department of Music is a small, tight-knight organization full of passionate people. The “Hidden Gems and Beloved Classics” concert exhibited this camaraderie between performers within the department.
“Music gives you a voice to express yourself,” Fordham said. “When words can’t say what they need to say, music can speak.”