Karen Szczech (Music '17) will graduate from the Music Department and study Violin Performance and Psychology at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville in the fall! Karen has written three operas while at The Academy, and has enjoyed the equal emphasis on performance and composition the school has provided her.
“We did a collaboration in Germany this last summer. Mr. Langen warned us that some of these other musicians were coming from different worlds—some might be prodigies. But the difference between us and them is that we wrote all the pieces for the program. These other students didn’t understand that we did performance and composition equally. The opera is a way to show what we do compositionally, but even that is such a small part of how much we compose.”
Karen also credits these past four years for helping her develop a professional mentality in how she approaches her work.
“The Academy has really helped me learn how to live life the way an artist should. It can really prepare you for that. As a musician, it teaches you a lot about rehearsals, how to communicate with people, and professionalism with other students and professional musicians. With the classes and opportunities we are afforded here, both as a performer and composer, you learn a lot about finding ways to make things work, no matter what. Nothing in life is easy, and I think it’s better to understand that sooner than later. This school, with the amount of work we have, makes that clear. You’re not ever going to escape that, but this school prepares you to handle it while doing something that you love. The work puts a smile on your face because of the eventual success that comes with it. There is definitely a lot of work, but it is 100% worth it in the end. At auditions and college visits, when I tell people about my accomplishments, they think I’m a graduate student. I tell them ‘No, I’m about to be a freshman!’ And they can’t believe it. So it pays off.”
Karen is excited to begin instruction with Dr. Lenora Anop, Director of Strings at SIUE. Congratulations to Karen! And good luck next year.
“In a way, it’s almost exciting to leave. I have my foundation. I’ve gained knowledge and experience, and I’ve gone through the bad times, perhaps maybe not being prepared for rehearsal, and learning from that. And now I’m ready to move on and take this next step on this path that I’ve wanted since I was little.”