Episode 16 - Shockers Up: Joshua Senn

Episode 16 May 19, 2023
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Watch a video of the podcast here: Joshua Senn is a graduate student in the College of Fine Arts’ choral conducting program. Joshua came to Wichita State from Ohio to pursue a master of music degree. In his graduate conducting recital, he presented an emotional tribute to his late nephew.    The “Forward Together” podcast celebrates … Continue reading ""
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 On this special student focused edition of four together, my guest is Joshua Sim, a graduate student in the College of Fine Arts Coral conducting program. Joshua came to Wichita State from Ohio to pursue a master's of music degree, and in January I attended his graduate conducting recital, and it was absolutely remarkable. Josh, it's so good to see you. Thank you for being here today and enjoying the podcast. Speaker 2 00:00:30 Well, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm really looking forward to it. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:00:34 Well, I'm looking forward to talking to you about what you've been doing at Wichita State, but I want to talk to you first about, um, uh, your recital that you did. And I, uh, first gentleman, Rick case, and I had an opportunity to go to that. It was incredible. Um, but can you tell us a little bit about what went into that? I, I, I think kits probably a little bit more complicated than what I saw. Speaker 2 00:00:57 Well, first off, thank you and to the first gentleman for being there. It was a real honored to have you Absolutely. In the audience. Uh, the, the recital was essentially my capstone project for, uh, for my time here at Wichita State. Uh, it's a chance for me to use the rehearsal strategies that I've learned and, um, all the conducting technique and really put it together and, and show it off. And, uh, it's really cool because the, you got to see the final product. So I started working on this back probably about fall break, um, of last semester. We started, uh, my professor, Dr. Beacon and I sat down and we really started working on, um, we had to choose all the repertoire. So what are you, so I had to represent, uh, I, there were certain, uh, check marks that I had to cross off from a list from him. Speaker 2 00:01:51 So I had to do, uh, it was 45 minutes, 45 minutes of music at least. Um, no, no, not 45. It was 30 minutes of music. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, and then, um, all the lecture stuff that went into it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, explaining, doing the research behind all the composers and, uh, the time periods for everything. So I had to do a piece from most every single musical genre, uh, or not genre of era. And then, uh, really kind of explain how the transition happened from one piece to the next, and talk about what the compositional styles and stuff were. And then it was, uh, and then as we got into the rehearsal process, um, I was only allowed 12 hours of rehearsal, which sounds like a lot, but when you, uh, really get down to it, that means between the, the nine different pieces of music divided by 12 hours, that's barely an hour on each piece. It's, wow, Speaker 1 00:02:47 I didn't realize that. So you only, you, you, you're only allowed 12 hours. You can't practice as much as, Speaker 2 00:02:52 Yeah. So that's one of the, so that's one of the things that makes us better is, uh, using, because if I had the entire year to work on it mm-hmm. <affirmative>, then, then yeah, it would be really polished. But when we get to, when the whole goal of conducting is to talk less and just let the music do more mm-hmm. <affirmative> and when we're able to use our hands to communicate things that we don't have to stop the music and then explain that just makes the music work better. And so to be more efficient, Dr. Beacon sets that limit of you only get 12 hours, so you have to use your time well, you have to be ready, you have to be prepared. So that was the fun cha the fun challenge of putting all that together. And Speaker 1 00:03:40 It really is a test of Yeah. Of your abilities. Speaker 2 00:03:43 And, and I mean, he was there in the back and he was taking notes on it the entire time. So, uh, I did pass. So we're, it was, it's a good thing, Speaker 1 00:03:52 <laugh>. Yeah. Well, I, I could tell that you, you did. Well, I mean, what do I know? I'm not a musician or a choral director, but I could tell that at least the audience was very engaged in, in, in the recital. So during your recital, you gave a very emotional tribute to your nephew, Tyler, who had passed. Uh, let's take a listen to, to some of the music. Speaker 0 00:04:32 I'll way I'll, Speaker 1 00:05:25 That was an awesome piece. Um, yeah, you can hear the audience, uh, plotting. Can you talk a little bit about how music helped you express your grief and, because leading up to that, uh, you, you, you talked about your, your, your nephew and how it helped you and your family heal. Speaker 2 00:05:44 Yeah. So, uh, unfortunately my nephew passed away, um, a couple months into the Covid Pandemic. And, uh, it, it was really hard on my family cuz with that time, covid restrictions, we, we didn't know what we were allowed to do or not allowed to do. Um, we were able to get together and do calling hours in service for Tyler. So it was, it was really great, um, to kind of be with the family. And, um, but I mean, as soon as that was over, we all kind of went back to our, to the, um, to our quarantine bubbles mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, uh, I just don't ever feel like I got a chance to really process it with anybody. And, um, you know, I had chosen this song, uh, and just chosen it because I really liked it and I didn't think about it at all. And then, uh, one day as I was doing my homework on it, and I, um, Tyler was, he was nonverbal, he was, um, and he, he never was able to walk or talk or mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I, and I just heard the line of, um, I have left my feet of clay upon the ground. I will be glory bound, I'll be on my way. Speaker 2 00:07:11 And in that moment, I just heard all of the things that I really wished for Tyler. Like when, when he was alive. And, and we just thought, wow, that was, that was really what I wanted for Tyler. I mean, it's what you want for any child is to just to be themselves and to live a life that is absolutely wonderful. And, um, Tyler lived a life that was loved and he continues to teach us how to love, but we never got the chance to process it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and music has always been my outlet since I can remember. It's always been that. And, uh, and when you find a piece that really just speaks to your soul, that's, that's really what we're after. And ever since that day when I realized, oh yeah, this text is, is telling me more than I really am thinking about it, uh, it it was very, very cathartic and very, and it, and I love the fact that the piece is an uptempo piece cuz it, it ends on a, on a positive, on a happy note. It wasn't a, a slow kind of like a ding. Speaker 2 00:08:21 And I found it and it was all the excitement and all the love and all the joy that I wanted Tyler to experience and that I know that he's experiencing now mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, now that he's passed. So it, it's been really great. Um, and, and I know my family is still dealing with it and there are still times where there are days when it's harder and there are days when it's not as hard. So it's been, uh, it, it's been really great to, to share this, share my way of dealing with it with my family. Yeah. And they've, um, and we're all still dealing with it in our own way. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:08:54 Well, I, it was very powerful and I, I'm so much appreciate you, you know, expressing, uh, uh, your, your feelings about this then when I saw the concert live, but also today and, um, hopefully, I don't even know, can you go back and look at the whole concert? Is that somewhere? Speaker 2 00:09:13 Yeah, it's, uh, on the School of Music Face, uh, school of Music, YouTube, uh, page, it's actually there. Um, the School of Music does a really great job of, um, and I know this kind of came out of the pandemic, uh, but they really started live streaming a lot of things. So I did have some family actually come out to, um, come out to Wichita from Ohio mm-hmm. <affirmative> to watch it in person. Actually, almost all of my immediately family was here. Um, my, my sister couldn't make it. Her, uh, my nieces actually caught a stomach bug the weekend, so they couldn't come out. Um, but uh, they got to watch it from home, um, through the streaming services that the univer that the School of Music now offers. Uh, and a lot of other family members and friends that couldn't make the trip out. That's great. Were able to watch it. So, yeah. Speaker 1 00:10:01 So for our listeners, um, go to the School of Music at Wichita State's Facebook page, Speaker 2 00:10:06 Uh, YouTube page. YouTube page. And then it, it's got it, it's recital season in the School of Music. So there's a ton of concerts. I mean, if you, you can find mine, you can find almost every single performance that is done at the School of Music is put on YouTube now. Speaker 1 00:10:21 Well, I, there wasn't a dry eye in that audience and I think I sat behind your family too, so You did. So Speaker 2 00:10:27 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:10:28 <laugh>. Um, okay. So on top of your schoolwork, uh, you're also active in your church choir. Um, how have you applied what you learned in the classroom to your work within your church, and then your upcoming job? Tell us a little bit more about how that has worked. Speaker 2 00:10:44 Yeah, so I actually sing at, uh, I, I, I sing at the University Congregational Church, um, with, uh, Dr. Beacon, is the conductor there mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, but there's a lot of times when Dr. Beacon, cuz he is a, a very well known clinician and, uh, guest conductor in a lot of places. So he'll have to leave for a couple days and, um, a lot of times those are weekend gigs and so he won't be able to make it back. Um, and so either he'll say, Hey, you're gonna be running rehearsal tonight, or Hey, you're in charge of the music on Sun, or you're in charge of conducting the choir on Sunday. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it's really great that I get to take the stuff that I'm learning in the classroom and that, uh, the idea that the university is big on this applied learning technique, I get to take exactly what I've done there, and then I get to go to, uh, take it to church and I get to, uh, apply it there and, uh, make some money with it to, uh, to really be putting into practice. And it's great because there's a lot of, there's a lot of wssu singers that are in that ensemble at church as well. So it's a lot of people that I know and they understand that I'm still a student even though I'm in a professional setting at that point mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so they know that I'm learning and I'm still growing and, and the community there at the church really does a great job of accepting that and embracing that mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, it's a great opportunity to put into practice immediately what I'm learning. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:12:09 I I remember the first time I noticed you, uh, conducting on campus, um, uh, before this concert that we just, um, heard, um, was the candlelight concert, um, not this past year, I think it was a year before. Yeah, it was my first year. Yeah. So you even got to experience that. And uh, of course that's a great, uh, great concert. The, uh, 60 years running Yeah. Is such a, a great thing to, to go to and Speaker 2 00:12:36 It's a great tradition. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:12:38 Right. Um, so I heard you accept a job locally with Valley Center School District. Um, what are your go goals for that job? Tell us a little bit more about the job and you know, what your title is going to be and all that, uh, and where do you see your career headed in the future? Speaker 2 00:12:53 Uh, the job at Valley Center, I'll be the high school choir director there. So I have, uh, four choirs that I'll be teaching there. Um, high school only, uh, which is really what I was after when I was mm-hmm. <affirmative> starting my job search. Um, and I'll just kind of be the, the director of choirs. Um, I'll certainly help, uh, with the marching band. Um, and with the drama there, the drama department there as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, that's kind of all wrapped up in the gig. Um, my goals for the program, I really, I really just kind of wanna see, um, we talked a little bit before we started recording about, uh, I'm already kind of working to get in and kind of see where they're at so I can kind of start to set these goals. Um, ultimately I'd like to make it, uh, a program that's, uh, known in the area mm-hmm. Speaker 2 00:13:40 <affirmative>, um, so that people will be able, like when I came to Wichita State, we would talk, um, you get a lot of local things thrown at you right away, which is great. It's a great way to immerse and, or you talk about the Wichita Public Schools mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you talk about Derby High School and the Goddard High Schools and really all of these places. And I, I hadn't until um, until really recently hadn't heard anything about Valley Center's program. And as I look at it, I think it's a, I think it's a great place to be a teacher. I think that there's a lot of potential there and I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can do to shape that and where I can kind of, um, move that to, to being one of one of those programs that when you come to Wichita to start studying music that you really hear about it Yeah. And, and really get involved with it. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:14:31 And it's so good that you're staying here in the community after you graduate. Um, cuz you're from Ohio Right. All your family and your connections, uh, back there. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:14:40 Um, and, and it was funny cuz everybody started asking me when I said, uh, that I was coming out to Wichita State for my grad degree, they were like, well, are you gonna stay out there? I said, I don't know <laugh>. I was like, I, I'm gonna, I'm gonna spend two years out there. We're gonna see what kind of connections I can build and what kind of, uh, what kind of learning I'll do, and then we'll see what opportunities open up. And it, it just so happened that Valley Center opened up and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I applied for it and luckily they said, Hey, we want you. So I was like, all right, I'll take you. Great. Speaker 1 00:15:11 So, so uh, tell me why you decided to come to Wichita State. Was it because of, uh, the faculty here or what, what, what was, what, what drew you here? Wichita State? Speaker 2 00:15:22 So Dr. Beacon actually, um, before he came to Wichita State was at a university near where I was teaching in Ohio. And I had seen him do a couple sessions at, um, a couple music conferences and I'd seen him run. And he actually came to, um, he came and did a day where he gave some sessions at, at my undergrad university in Ohio. Okay. Uh, one of my professors, actually a couple of my professors and him are really good friends, so, okay. Um, we had the chance to just kind of talk there and then, um, I reached out to him when he was at his former university and said that I was interested in studying with him. And then he made the jump to Wichita State, and I thought, well, okay, fine. And then he actually reached out to me again and said, Hey, if you're still thinking about doing that master's in conducting, he was like, I hope you'll, uh, take a look out here. Speaker 2 00:16:13 And that's when I kind of started poking around and looking and I was like, I was like, wow, there's some really good stuff happening on mm-hmm. <affirmative> out here at Wichita State. And I was like, yeah, I'll, I'll definitely make the jump. And, uh, I kind of wanted, uh, I was looking at another university similar in Ohio and definitely would've been closer to family, but, but something about, uh, kind of leaving the nest and Yeah. And really mm-hmm. <affirmative> testing to see what I, what I know about myself and what I can learn about myself and have the freedom to, to kind of grow and expand. I think that was a, that was a big draw to come outta state and then come to Wichita State for the faculty and the resources I think that are available here for me. Speaker 1 00:16:56 Yeah. Well that's, that's, thank you for sharing that. Um, uh, I wondered if, if Dr. Beacon had a, had a role in that. Um, he's awesome. Yeah. He's, Speaker 2 00:17:06 He's fantastic. It's, it's been a really great, it's been really great to get to work with him more and, and really start to see, um, the differences in how he teaches and how I teach and the aspects of his teaching and his conducting that I really want to incorporate into my future teaching as I go forward. Speaker 1 00:17:24 Well, and he'll be here hopefully, and you can still have that relationship with him, bounce ideas Speaker 2 00:17:29 Off. That is definitely the goals. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:17:31 Well, uh, Josh, I really appreciate you stopping by and, and being on the podcast. One of the things I want to say about you is that you're always smiling. I can tell you really enjoy what you're doing, and that's such a great thing. Speaker 2 00:17:44 Well, it's, if I, if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, I'm doing the wrong thing Speaker 1 00:17:48 Then. Yeah. Well, it's good to see you and, um, we're, we're looking forward to seeing what happens in the future. Thank you for having me. It's been really fun. Take care. Thank you for joining me today. And remember to rate, review and subscribe wherever you listen to the th Together podcast.

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