Finding ‘a second home’ in the Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Sunderman Conservatory of Music
Elizabeth Bishop ’23 (second from left) shares her experiences as part of a vibrant musical community in the Sunderman Conservatory of Music.

Since joining the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, I have always felt the sense of community and support that I felt on my first day on campus as a prospective student. From walking to ensembles with my friends and professors to attending social events with the orchestra and laughing in the Schmucker lobby with my friends, the connections you make at every corner will last a lifetime.

Opening prelude to Gettysburg College

During my audition for the Conservatory in January of 2019, I remember receiving a warm welcome by faculty and current students. Although I was nervous, I felt a sense of support right away.

When I returned to campus for Get Acquainted Day a few months later, I was invited to have breakfast in town at the Gettysburg Baking Company with Prof. Yeon-Su Kim and other prospective string students. Prof. Kim made efforts to get to know each of us individually and shared her excitement about working with us when we arrived as a first-year student. I could tell right away that she treated her students like family. She truly cared about all of us. Two of my closest friends were also made during this breakfast!

Making music with friends

At Gettysburg, I enjoy being able to play a variety of music. In the orchestra, we have played music from Beethoven symphonies, Latin artists, and movies like “Frozen.” In chamber ensembles, we are able to choose the music we play, play the music we love, and do it all alongside our friends.

I also played in the pit orchestra for our most recent musical, “Into the Woods,” at the Majestic Theater. I have always loved musical theater and playing in the pit orchestra for my high school productions, so it was a really exciting opportunity to get to play in the pit orchestra in a professional setting with my friends. My favorite part was that the conductor, Music Prof. Russell McCutcheon, brought us snacks to eat during breaks in rehearsals. This experience strengthened my sense of community even further and helped me develop connections with peers and faculty whom I hadn’t worked with extensively before.

The Pit Orchestra
The pit orchestra practices with Prof. McCutcheon prior to the production of Into the Woods at the Majestic Theater.

After taking Music Theory I with Music Prof. Avner Dorman my first semester, he became my academic advisor. When I expressed my love for music theory, Prof. Dorman suggested that I take composition lessons with him, and since then, I have written many different styles of music, and have developed my skills as a composer, music theorist, and musician. My favorite part of taking composition lessons is that Prof. Dorman helps his students develop their skills in the style of music that they want to focus on. It is an amazing opportunity to work one-on-one with an established composer. He also genuinely cares about our well-being, and is always there to listen and give advice.

Outside of classes and ensembles, I have become involved in the Conservatory in other ways. I work as the operations manager for the orchestra, doing tasks behind the scenes to make sure our rehearsals and concerts run smoothly. I also work as a music ambassador. I love talking to prospective students, getting to know them, and telling them about my experience in the Conservatory. Additionally, I work as a music theory peer learning associate, where I help students with their homework and preparing for exams and quizzes. Lastly, I am a part of the Sunderman Student Advisory Council, which helps to facilitate communication between students and faculty in the Conservatory.

Music that binds and builds

Overall, I have found an abundance of opportunities which are super easy to get involved with. I love getting to work with different people in the community, and getting to know different areas of music in these roles. I also love meeting people from all over campus through my involvement in music. Since one in every seven students at Gettysburg College participate in some way in the Conservatory, it is a great opportunity to meet people with different backgrounds and interests, and share ideas and perspectives in a collaborative manner.

In my time so far at Gettysburg, I have found a second home in the Conservatory. I have found lifelong friends, and developed as a musician and a person in three short years, and I can't wait to see what my future in the Conservatory holds.

Learn more about the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College

By Elizabeth Bishop ’23
Photos by Shawna Sherrell and Abbey Frisco
Posted: 06/07/22