Looking back on my time at Eastman

The following guest post was written by Betsy Pilon, BM ’15.  Thanks Betsy!

Betsy Recital

Betsy Pilon performs an encore at her senior recital, with her father accompanying on piano.


With graduation in less than a month, and my move out date looming in the all-too-near future, I’m already beginning to miss my time at Eastman. I’m excited to move on and continue my education in vocal performance and opera; I’m excited to experience new places and work with new people, but I know that come September, a part of me will be wishing I were back in Rochester, NY.

After four years here, Eastman has become home for me. I could walk around the various ESM buildings blindfolded- with only minimal injury to myself or others. There are a lot of spots on the campus that I love, but I’ll particularly miss Sibley Music Library. Sibley is convenient, of course, as it is the largest music academic library on the continent and second largest in the world. No matter how obscure the work, I know that I’ll probably be able to find it somewhere in Sibley. And it’s easy to find hidden treasures. After practicing, I like to take a break and wander through the shelves of music, picking up interesting pieces that catch my eye. Then, with my stack of scores, I’ll sit quietly in one of the comfy chairs by the windows overlooking Gibbs Street. In the peace that only a library can provide, I’ll dig through new pieces, take a nap, or spy on people going in and out of Java’s.

Around the corner from Sibley is Christ Church, another part of Eastman and Rochester that I will miss. The inside of the church is lovely, but the music you can hear on Sunday night is even lovelier. At 9 pm on Sunday nights from October to April, Schola Cantorum performs Gregorian chant, Renaissance and Baroque choral music, and choral improvisation.  The ensemble is made up of Eastman Students and alumni, directed by Stephen Kennedy. The half-hour of music is sung either a capella or accompanied by authentic baroque instruments. I find that the time spent in a candlelit church listening to perfectly blended voices and gorgeously woven harmonies helps to me reflect on the past week and prepare myself for the next.

Although I will miss Rochester, Eastman, and the many spots around the area that I’ve come to love, I have learned that it is the people who surround you that truly make a place and an experience great. For that reason, what I will miss most are the people I have grown close with during my time at Eastman. There are so many people, from teachers to friends, that have shaped who I have become far more than the school or city could do alone. There is Ms. Cowdrick, who was and is a supportive teacher and a wonderful mentor. There’s Eleanor Lee, who plays music just as well as she reads aloud. There’s Chelsea Nelson, who is still my friend despite the fact that I crashed her car. There are hundreds of people that I have met at Eastman, and in some way or another, I will miss each and every one of them.

But here’s my consolation: the music world is small and tight-knit. The friends and connections made here will stay with me for the rest of my life. Although graduation may mean “goodbye”, it’s more of a “goodbye for now.”