One of a Kind

by Naomi Causby, 2nd-year Pianist

The title gives it all away of what I’m going to talk about, but I can basically say that my experience at Juilliard has been nothing less than an absolutely amazing, one-of-a-kind experience. Juilliard has opened my eyes to so many possibilities that lay ahead for me. It’s hard to really pinpoint one experience that has really formed my life here, but if I really had to choose one it would have to be the amount of performance opportunities that Juilliard offers.

Growing up, I always knew The Juilliard School as “the performance school of the entire world.” I had a vision of students performing basically 24/7, and now that I’m here in real life, it is nothing short of that. Not only are there required orchestra concerts, but also everyone is a part of other small ensembles such as New Juilliard Ensemble and Axiom. New music was something that I was never really familiar with growing up in South Carolina, and it was kind of like uncharted territory that I didn’t want to go into. However, since my first year, I’ve been in almost every New Juilliard concert given and it has been absolutely phenomenal. Not only are you pushed to learn intricate rhythms and notes, but you are also pushed out of your own comfort zone to not follow the “norm” that we’ve all learned to perfection. My teacher back home always told me that it was best to be a “rounded musician…dabbling in everything that you can get your hands on.”

Ever since then, other opportunities have come forward. Axiom ensemble, playing at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), and even playing in Juilliard dance workshops. One thing leads to the next. Who knows where my career is going to lead me? But the opportunities that keep rising here are endless, and that’s what makes Juilliard so amazing.

And to think…it’s only my second year. With two whole years ahead of me, who knows what else will happen. Overall, the Juilliard experience is a once in a lifetime experience and I plan on taking advantage of everything that is offered to me.

A+ Performance Opportunities

by Taylor Peterson, 3rd-year Horn player

There is no greater place to gain exposure to the current orchestral scene than at Juilliard. The performance experiences here are like none other, and though you will be busy, you will be doing what you love most.  Whatever that is, may it be acting, dancing, playing the horn, or the bass, you can only benefit from such an environment with so many diverse opportunities.  I mean, where else can you walk across the street to the performing arts capital of the world after rehearsing at school with a world-renowned conductor?  I have learned so much about performing and the orchestral scene by attending and performing in so many performances.

One Friday evening last fall, I finished a Juilliard+Met opera rehearsal with James Levine and walked across the street to see Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct the New York Philharmonic in a performance of Sibelius Symphony No. 5.  Last year, I saw the Chicago Symphony play Respighi’s Fountains of Rome at Carnegie Hall.  Just yesterday, I saw the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.  These are just a few of the performances that are readily available to Juilliard students.

My freshman year, I saw an impeccable performance by Gill Shaham, who played the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.  It was so bizarre to witness a full orchestra pull off a performance without a conductor.  It wasn’t until I started in the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra cycle that I really understood how these performers could play together.  JCO is an experience in which we are not given a conductor, but instead a coach, usually from Orpheus, to lead rehearsals in a chamber group setting.  Playing without a conductor forces every individual sitting on stage to listen even more intensely than ever before.  I remember, after my group performed Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 in C, how proud we all were that we took on the task and developed our own musical ideas rather than ideas from a conductor.  This isn’t to say that no one needs a conductor, but the process within itself was quite rewarding.

The other day I listened to a recording of the time I performed Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique with the Juilliard Orchestra at Avery Fischer Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Itzhak Perlman.  This past October I played Bruckner 7 with Alan Gilbert conducting. The same day, I observed the London Symphony rehearse Shostakovich 15 at Avery Fischer with Bernard Haitink conducting, whom, might I add, I had just worked with in Juilliard’s Lab Orchestra. Speaking of observing rehearsals, I also saw Berlin Phil’s dress rehearsal of Mahler 2 in Carnegie Hall, and yes, it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had yet.

These experiences are all very regular opportunities at Juilliard. As an undergraduate, I have been in contact with more famous conductors and players than I ever would have imagined. And get this: I still have 3 semesters to see and do even more!

Conservatory vs. Liberal Arts University: Oh, how I was wrong

by Miles Mykkanen, Voice

As a sophomore in high school, my friend’s mother asked me if I wanted to go to Juilliard.  I responded with something like, “Nah, I could never see myself at a conservatory!”  I always envisioned college as my chance to step outside of my comfort zone and experience new things: take a social anthropology course, get involved with student clubs and organizations, study abroad, befriend a science major…  In my mind, an arts conservatory wasn’t going to give me the kind of background that a liberal arts university would offer.  Oh, how I was wrong!  (Except for befriending a science major…I’m still working on that.)

My first year at Juilliard was all about finding my groundings within the school, developing my circle of friends, and experiencing everything New York City has to offer.  Not long into my second year, I was asked to join the Juilliard Student Council.  The council had only been in existence for nine months at that point and there was a team of about five dedicated students.  Together we cultivated the group, built our presence on campus, and became an organization that the student body now uses to voice their concerns and ideas.  I have been on the council for four years now and currently serve as the Chair; it’s the perfect opportunity for me to mingle with friends from other divisions and focus some energy away from the practice room.

Language, travel, and culture have always interested me.  One of the reasons I love opera is that I get to study different societies from around the world.  Classical singers have to refine their linguistic toolbox to the extreme of sounding like a native speaker.  One of the most thrilling opportunities I had during my undergraduate studies was receiving Juilliard’s Lucrezia Bori Grant.  The Bori Grant allows singers and collaborative pianists the opportunity to travel to any country and study its language.  After my third year at Juilliard, I received the grant and traveled to Rome for three weeks.  I had the time of my life––taking language classes all morning into the early afternoon and sightseeing Rome’s museums and landmarks into the evening.

Attending a conservatory ended up being the best decision I ever made.  Of course I received the top-notch music instruction Juilliard is known for, but I never would have guessed I would have the extracurricular activities that one normally thinks exclusive to four-year universities.  When prospective students ask me what is the most surprising thing about Juilliard, my response is two-fold, “First, everyone is extremely nice and helpful!  Secondly, each student has the chance to mold their own educational experience into what they need.”  Juilliard wants its students to be well-rounded artists who are capable of living as educated citizens.  I have the artistic education I always hoped for, while also being able to develop my other passions.