The Sound of Music according to Daphnée

Studying music at Bishop’s University. What must that be like? I’ve been asked this question many times in the last few years. My name is Daphnée Vandal, and I am a proud Bishop’s alumnae, Class of 2017. I am confident in saying that I made one of the best decisions of my life when I chose to attend this school. As I have been studying violin for 19 years, I was skeptical that such a small music program would help me grow as a musician. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only have I grown in ways that have helped me better my musical abilities overall, but I have grown into who I want to be as a musician, with a newfound confidence that was not conceivable before I attended Bishop’s University.

As the music program is small, the department in itself became a sort of family for me. I have formed relationships with classmates and professors that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. My classes have been no larger than 20 students on average, and I’ve always felt very comfortable approaching my professors about any concerns I had throughout the semesters — both of which are benefits that are extremely rare at most universities. I have found a self-propelled motivation that has pushed me to reach new heights and explore the farthest corners of my abilities, both academically and musically.

I always wondered if there were enough musical opportunities at such a small school. I have played in multiple rock/pop ensembles, which have brought me together with musicians that I still play with outside of the courses themselves, I have played in a small chamber orchestra, as well as three to four person chamber ensembles, and of course, participated in almost all semesters in the Bishop’s University Singers Choir.

Although I haven’t studied voice at Bishop’s, I decided to join the choir because I absolutely love to sing, and it provided me with the opportunity to do so twice a week. As it is a community choir, it is open to any and all students, whether they are studying music or not, as well as community members who wish to participate. Each semester, our choir director, Fannie Gaudette, chooses a musical theme that we pursue, culminating in a final performance. In recent years, the first semester has been comprised of half classical music and half pop music, proving to be immensely difficult but satisfactory. The second semester consists of mainly pop music, where members of the choir are given the chance to be featured as soloists on the Centennial Theatre stage.

PHOTO: Fannie Gaudette and Daphnée Vandal

On Friday, December 2nd 2016, the Bishop’s University Singers sang one of their most important concerts that I have had the opportunity to participate in. In the spirit of the holidays, the choir sang their hearts out in Centennial, offering all who attended the occasion to feel the genuine holiday spirit as well. Quebecor recently gave the choir a generous donation of $100,000, which pushed the choir to be all the more enthusiastic, focusing their efforts towards working hard on the program to ultimately put on a show for all ages to enjoy. After weeks of diligent rehearsals under the direction of Fannie Gaudette, the choir was eager to hear the music with the instrumental ensemble. Needless to say, the fantastic musicians that were hired with the funds received from Quebecor carried the ensemble to new heights; filling the theatre with melodies the audience couldn’t resist humming as they walked out the doors.

BU grad Daphnée Vandal in her element during the 2016 BU Singers Christmas concert

I was also fortunate enough to have one of the solos this past semester, singing Joni Mitchell’s “River”. Words cannot describe the experience I had standing on stage. When I sing or play music, everything else around me disappears. I felt as though I could’ve reached out and broken the seemingly glass audience, and when I opened my eyes, it was as though I came out of a deep sleep. These are the moments that solidify my place, assuring me that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

For the first time in my life, I feel confident as a musician, which wouldn’t have been possible had I gone to a conservatory, or a much larger school. Bishop’s gave me the small environment I needed to develop myself as an independently motivated musician, with the confidence to promote myself and continue to be deeply involved in my passion. I would recommend studying music at Bishop’s any day, and I am extremely grateful for my experience.

Daphnée Vandal
Honours Music and Arts Administration Major
Hometown: Shelburne, Vermont USA

To learn more about the Music Department: www.ubishops.ca/music
To learn more about the BU Singers: www.busingers.ca

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