Summer into Fall with Summer at Eastman: The Power of Connections

By Brianna J. Robinson

Soprano Brianna Robinson is a second-year Eastman master’s degree student in Vocal Performance, in Robert Swensen’s studio. She is also completing an Arts Leadership Certificate from Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership. Brianna recently performed the role of Ottavia in Eastman Opera Theatre’s fall production of Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, and sang André Previn’s Honey and Rue with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra.

Soprano Brianna Robinson

My internship with Summer@Eastman was all about connections: I served as the Operations Assistant during Summer 2017 and continued in Fall 2017 as the Marketing Assistant. This past summer, with Sylvie Beaudette and Andrea Schuler by my side, I helped run a program that housed hundreds of students, educators, and musicians from all walks of life right under the same roof here at Eastman. And this fall, I have had the opportunity to help continue the cycle of bringing new musicians here to receive exciting and life-changing experiences with our incredible faculty and staff.

My fondest memory from this summer was the connection I made with six high school students. These students participated in Eastman Community Music School’s half-day programs; they needed something to do in the evenings during the week. It was my job to find something for them to do, so we went to a different Eastman performance each evening. We heard a jazz band, a beautiful concert on one of the many incredible organs in Rochester, and we even got to see their peers performing in a Mozart opera. I reflect on this experience not just because I had to chaperone high schoolers, but because of the connections I made with all of them. Two of the students travelled to Rochester from my home state of Ohio, one even ten minutes away from my family home in Ravenna. Two others took lots of pride in the fact that they are multidimensional musicians who are vocalists as well as saxophone players, like I am. Another student, who was very shy and quiet, lit up when we went to see the Bill Tiberio Band perform. He couldn’t stop talking about how incredible the concert was for him and he was able to share that with all of us. While this experience may have been insignificant at the time, now, in my responsibility of growing our base for participants during the summer, it is proving to mean so much more than it did before.

One of my responsibilities as Summer@Eastman’s Marketing Assistant was to research music schools, teaching studios, and arts organizations in the western United States, looking for new connections with music teachers, arts educators, arts administrators, and anyone else who might want to learn about our summer programming at Eastman. I was amazed to discover just how many Eastman alumni there are out in the world: teaching, performing, working for music programs, really just dominating music and the arts. I found hundreds of arts organizations during my search, and Eastman alumni are connected to each of them in some way.

Of the many things that Eastman provides, connections and familiar faces are some of the most important. In my research this semester, I experienced this on a personal level: I remember visiting the website of a small music school in Washington state and seeing a former coworker from my AmeriCorps year featured as a successful alumna. I messaged her and let her know that because of my internship, I was able to make this connection. I reconnected with a person I had not spoken to in over a year! Also, this past summer, a current faculty member told me about a connection we both had with a woman who had interviewed me for a job a few years ago (the woman had also been an Eastman staff member). Connections are everywhere at Summer@Eastman!

From chaperoning to capturing thousands of email addresses to shuffling instruments, I never had a dull moment during Summer@Eastman. I can’t say enough about the incredible connections I made and how they will shape me as my time at Eastman comes to a close.

Instrument cases galore!