Graduates talk

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Emery Kerekes / Santa Monica, California
Silliman College: Music

What was your senior project?
A livestream recital of eight works for unaccompanied voice. I started with a Hildegard chant, “O viridissima virga,” from the middle 1160s. And I ended with songs from 2018, written in Irish Gaelic by Rosa Crean.

What surprised you about the music scene at Yale?
I got so many different types of hands-on experiences: not only playing, singing, and conducting, but also doing admin for ensembles, and publicity and social media. I played cello in the Yale Symphony Orchestra and sang with the Glee Club and at Christ Church New Haven. I also did quite a bit of writing about music. Before the pandemic, during October break, I saw and reviewed eight concerts in five days.

How did you find time to study?
Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely adored my classes—but I quickly learned how to skim.

What music-making was possible during the pandemic?
I was the artistic director of the Undergraduate Chamber Orchestra, which focuses on music composed by undergrads. We leaned into the pandemic and did programs of new music for virtual ensembles, with eight premieres last semester and six this semester.

When did you realize that music was your calling?
At 11 or 12. You know how everyone in middle school has their obsession? TV fandoms, or video games, or sports? Mine was classical music. I would read sheet music for fun. I’d hole up in my basement and binge operas. There was one day when I tried to listen to all the Mahler symphonies. I think I got through six.

What will you miss about New Haven?
Walking up Saint Ronan Street. There’s something about the shade and those houses: it just makes you feel like you’re breathing in joy.