With a vacancy in the Keene State College Music Department, Dr. Christina Wright-Ivanova has taken on the role of assistant professor of music and the coordinator of piano/collaborative piano.
Wright-Ivanova has performed as a chamber musician throughout the U.S.A., Australia, Europe, Canada, China and South America, appearing in recital with many established artists, according to her website.
Previously a professor of doctoral and graduate students at several universities, Wright-Ivanova said working as a tenured-track professor with undergraduate students was a good next step in her academic career. She added it was also an opportunity to build on the program at KSC, help bring high-level musicians to campus and provide opportunities for her to play and collaborate on an international level.
“What I really always wanted was to have a job at a liberal arts institution and have the opportunity and craft young minds that are eager to learn about liberal arts from the most traditional sense of word — music and art coming together in a very interdisciplinary way,” Wright-Ivanova said.
Doctoral and graduate students tend to know exactly where they want to be, according to Wright-Ivanova, and it gave her less of an opportunity to guide them towards their end goal.
“[Doctoral and graduate students] have been crafted already, but with an undergraduate mind, you can really open them up to anything and it’s really ripe for learning, so I was really excited about this age group,” Wright-Ivanova said.
KSC senior and music education major Matthew McGinnis is one of Wright-Ivanova’s vocal coach students. McGinnis said he was able to perform a piece, his primary instrument being voice, with each of the three finalists for the position, but Wright-Ivanova stood out for him. “For me, personally…she offered so much guidance,” McGinnis said.
Music Department Chair and Associate Professor of Music Dr. Heather Gilligan echoed McGinnis and said Wright-Ivanova was “among the favorites from the beginning,” starting with the paper application process.
“I think she rose to the top of the pile in the paper-vetting process,” Gilligan said. “When she came to campus, she blew everyone away. She had a great interview, she had a great performance, we had a lot of great feedback from students saying ‘please hire her,’ so we hoped that she would say yes.”
KSC sophomore and piano performance major Kirsten Becker said the transition to Wright-Ivanova was smooth.
“I wasn’t excited to hear that my old professor was leaving, but she [Wright-Ivanova] is such a bubbly person and she’s already inspiring me, so I am very excited to work with her,” Becker said.
Knowing of Wright-Ivanova’s international musical experience, Becker said she is intrigued to learn from her.
“I want to learn how to become a better accompanist and performer, and since she has worked with opera before, I am excited to see what she has to say about that,” Becker said.
Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of the Music Education Program Dr. Sandra Howard said, similar to Becker, she hopes Wright-Ivanova will bring what she has learned internationally inside the classroom.
“I hope she feels she can bring her own voice to the department and craft the collaborative piano aspect in a way that still keeps the same high bar, but maybe she can shape it in a way that suits the trends that are going on in the nation,” Howard said. “So really just continuing to elevate, we’re in nice shape now, but it’s nice to have a professor who will come in and raise the bar even more.”
As the coordinator of piano/collaborative piano, Wright-Ivanova said she has big plans for the piano program.
“I want to build on the predecessor here [Piano Coordinator and Professor Maura Glennon], and she built a piano program, the foundations of which are very strong, but I would like to bring this program into the 21st century in terms of…being a renaissance musician, being able to do many different things at a high level,” Wright-Ivanova said. “It takes a lot of dedication and realizing that the music is changing in the world, it’s always changing, and you have to be adaptable and flexible as young artists. So I want to bring it to an international level, I think it can be that.”
Olivia Belanger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org