Senior music major Edison Kang of Whitestone, N.Y., will demonstrate his skills this weekend, first on Friday evening as student conductor for a portion of the Sinfonia and Jazz Band Fall Concert and again on Sunday afternoon as conductor of a recital of choral works he has selected and prepared.
Kang has loved music since childhood, and as he grew up he took piano and violin lessons and participated in his church’s music activities, even leading his youth group’s worship team.
“But I never fully understood the impact that music can have on a person until I came to Erskine College,” he said.
Once his mother talked with him about Erskine, having heard about the school from someone at church, Kang felt God’s call to come here, and also felt called to ministry. He intended to major in church music as a freshman and has continued in that program.
The transition from the New York City area to Due West was difficult at first. “But over time, because of friends and the relationships with professors, I became comfortable here,” he said. “There are many people here at Erskine who helped shape who I am now.”
Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Mark Nabholz, who is overseeing Kang’s independent study in Advanced Choral Conducting, spoke about his student’s development.
“Musicians most often discover an interest in conducting after they’ve completed their undergraduate studies,” he said. “But Edison discovered his interest early enough that we were able to help him undertake this project, and that should give him an advantage when he applies to graduate schools.”
After taking conducting classes, he began to notice how the ensemble becomes the conductor’s musical instrument. Professor of Music Dr. Brooks Kuykendall “allowed me to conduct a couple of pieces for Sinfonia,” Kang said. “This experience really inspired me to want to pursue conducting.”
Nabholz pointed out that one of the distinctives of the music department at Erskine is “the flexibility of the program,” and this benefits students. “We can help students realize their goals while those goals are still changing, rather than locking them into a rigid degree structure,” he added.
Kang said Nabholz “has been very helpful in all the aspects of choral conducting—score study, rehearsal planning, developing the choral instrument, and concert planning.”
“Without the help of my music professors, I would not be where I am today,” Kang said.
But he doesn’t intend to stay where he is, and advises other students to move toward their goals. “It’s good to have a plan for your future because it will become a motivation for your education,” he said.
To his packed schedule as a music major—classes, rehearsals, performances, and lots of practice—and his activities with the Euphemian Literary Society, Kang has recently added the graduate school application process. “I am planning on applying to Yale School of Music, Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, and some others,” he said.
Acknowledging that the performing arts field is “very competitive,” Kang said, “There will always be someone better than you. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. It you have a goal, you need to work as hard as you can to achieve it.”
The Erskine Sinfonia and Jazz Band Fall Concert will be presented Friday, Nov. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall, with Edison Kang serving as a student conductor for Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite. A recital, Sunday, Nov. 23, at 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall, features a chamber choir of Erskine vocalists, accompanied by senior pianist Jonathan Jacobs and a professional string quartet, all conducted by Edison Kang. The program includes selections from the Renaissance to the 21st century.