Over the course of the 57 year existence of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, some incredibly talented students have studied on this Mountain and gone on to amazing careers in music and other fields. Erin Patterson, cellist, is one alumnus that fits that description. I was able to ask Erin a number of questions for the benefit of the SSMF community.
1. What are your career aspirations?
I plan on pursuing a Masters in Music Performance after receiving my BM degree. I currently feel more drawn to chamber music as a potential profession than any other ensemble playing and hope to be able to pursue this in the future. I know that I still have many experiences ahead of me that may determine the final outcome of my career path, but right now chamber music seems to be where my passion lies. I also recognize that there is stiff competition in the world of music and performance, so I am open to the possibility of teaching and would like to pass on what I have learned from past teachers and instruction from camps. I would also enjoy being an instructor at a music camp to help keep my career alive through connections with young musicians.
2. What kind of effect did the SSMF have on you?
I had a life changing experience at Sewanee that made it clear to me that spending my life making music was the only way I would be happy. Sewanee was my first summer camp, and was a great introduction to the world of music. My first summer at Sewanee was when I began to take my potential career as a musician seriously. Sewanee provided the right amount of competition, free time (to practice of course), and encouragement from professionals for me to show great improvement at the end of the summer. Sewanee helped me set my priorities straight, and it was there that I began learning how to practice more efficiently. Sewanee helped me realize that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than my personal best.
3. What would you say to someone who has never been to the SSMF?
Go! Sewanee changed my life. The people are friendly, the coffee is great, and the mountain is gorgeous. The surrounding community of musicians inspired me. I am a very social person and thrived through being around people who shared the same interests as me. There is also a place for the introvert in the mountains. Sewanee provides a sanctuary for aspiring young musicians away from the demands of school or family. I have stayed in contact with most of my friends from Sewanee and was surprised to find how small the music world really is!
4. Are you planning on ever coming back?
I have many goals for summer study including becoming Suzuki Teacher certified and attending camps and workshops to focus on chamber study, but Sewanee definitely has a place in the future for me either as an RA, teacher, or performer.
5.Tell us why you love music
I come from a musical family, so music has always been a part of my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else. There is no greater experience to me than to refine a musical work, share the experience with an audience, and reap the reward of being appreciated. I enjoy the community of musicians I have come to know, and I can’t imagine my life without my cello. I had no idea what my chances were of placing in the HSO Concerto Competition. Through this experience I learned that performance should be all about the music, not competition, and I will not let the fear of judgment keep me from expressing myself or my musical ideas. This experience gave me a wonderful opportunity to grow as a performer.
I have always been told that to succeed in anything, there are three ingredients necessary: talent, opportunity, and hard work. Sewanee gave me the opportunity to find my talent and learn that if I put in the work, I can achieve my musical dreams.