For the culmination of a yearlong Honors project in choral conducting, Elena Parkins ’18 will lead a recital featuring the Seneca Camerata and HWS Chorale through a compilation of songs by Benjamin Britten and other notable composers. The concert will be take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3 in Froelich Hall of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts.
Under the direction of Professor of Music Bob Cowles, Parkins has focused her Honors work on the British composer Britten and his implementation of pacifist themes during and after World War II. For her thesis, Parkins has analyzed Britten’s masterful setting of the English language.
The recital will consist of eight pieces of music including several of Britten’s works and others by Stanford, Purcell, Bernstein and Bartók. Parkins will conduct the small vocal ensemble featuring members of the Seneca Camerata, a Syracuse vocal group, accompanied by members of the HWS Chorale.
“This project has helped me grow as a musician, writer and thinker,” says Parkins, a music and psychology double major. She is president of Perfect Third, the Colleges’ co-ed a cappella group, and a member and assistant conductor of HWS Chorale.
In preparation of the concert, she learned several aspects of conducting such as how to teach a large group of people with varying levels of expertise. She is also gaining experience in guiding singers through a heavy repertoire.
“I liked the idea of doing an Honors project when I heard about the program in my first year due to its flexibility in focus,” Parkins says. “Knowing that I could pursue something that I was interested in, regardless of whether it fit with a specific major or class, made Honors really appealing.”
Through her work, Parkins says she has become a “better conductor and musician.” She will also lead two pieces during the Chorale’s annual spring tour this year in Boston, Mass.
Outside of the classroom, Parkins works as a Music Teaching Fellow. She is the recipient of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Scholarship.