Audrey Fernandez-Fraser, M.Div 2016, comes to the ISM YDS from a multidisciplinary background that includes evolutionary biology, music composition, and singing. Her faith is influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, and Mormonism. She is treasuring her time at YDS and the ISM, especially in daily prayer in Marquand Chapel, singing in the Yale Schola Cantorum, composing liturgical music, and taking some rad philosophy classes. She is pursuing a joint Masters of Social Work from Yeshiva University (MSW ’17), and she hopes to devote her working life to Internal Family Systems therapy, Nonviolent Communication, and making new and early music. She recently spoke with our “Humans of the ISM” reporter Tara Jamali about the interdisciplinary connections she’s made as a student at the ISM:
I’m writing a piece for the undergraduate composition class that I’m taking based on the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the Book of Acts. I love that story, and I think it kind of connects to my experience here, and just my experience in the past several years with Christianity. Philip is so ready to preach the Gospel – he is ready to share – and the eunuch is so ready to learn. I just love how Philip expounds Isaiah for him, and they’re riding along, and a few minutes later he’s like, there’s some water right there! What stops you from being baptized? I just love that, and I hope it’s going to happen to me! It’s so exciting. So I guess I’m trying to put into music what I hope I will one day understand or put into words in terms of my own faith. I feel like I can preach through singing more than I can preach through words.
Canadian conductor Patrick Murray, M.M. ’16, is in his second year of the Masters of Music in Choral Conducting at the ISM, where he is the principal assistant conductor of the Yale Camerata and co-conductor of the Marquand Chapel Choir. In his conversation with Tara Jamali, he talked about the challenges, rewards, and value of choral conducting today:
There is a bit of a lingering stigma around choral music – that it isn’t necessarily as professional, say, as orchestral instrumental music – which in some ways is true. Choral conductors are often working with amateur or volunteer singers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good singers. They may simply have chosen to do other things with their lives and careers. So I’ve definitely encountered certain musicians who have tried to push me in other directions that would be seen by them as somehow more professional, more high art, or more successful. But I’ve sort of always known that’s not what I want to do. I want to work with singers embedded within and creating a community. I want to work with people who are volunteering their time because they love to make music. As a leader, you get something back out of that as well. I think in a good conductor-ensemble relationship it is a two-way street: you give a lot of yourself to your ensemble, but they also give back to you. And that community enriches everyone’s lives. Many of the most artistically rewarding experiences I’ve had as a singer, as a conductor, and as a composer have been with groups of people who are just volunteering their time to make art happen.
Interviews and photos by Tara Jamali, M.A.R. ’17