Work with love and be humble and open. We’re lucky to be at a school where we’re surrounded by wonderful people and musicians.
Renee Santos ’24
Violin Sioux City, IA
Q: Why did you choose to study violin at Iowa? A: My four siblings and I were homeschooled, and music was a required subject. My mom bundled us off to weekly piano and violin lessons, and school wasn’t complete unless we finished our practice. I knew I wanted to get serious about music when I was 13. I began participating in competitions and summer music festivals. I loved the increased opportunities I received for solo performances, chamber music, and orchestra, and I knew I wanted to keep doing it as much as possible. I decided to come to Iowa to study with Dr. Scott Conklin and Dr. Réne Lecuona. I met them when I was still in high school: Dr. Conklin at a summer festival and Dr. Lecuona at a piano competition. The Chamber Music Residency Program (shoutout to Professor Beth Oakes!) was also a big draw, and I absolutely love being part of it. Q: What’s a favorite Iowa Music memory? A: Performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade as concertmaster with the UI Symphony Orchestra. Scheherazade has been on my bucket list since I was little. Being given the opportunity to perform it with my friends was completely and perfectly lovely. It’s one of those things I won’t forget.
Q: What has surprised you about your time at Iowa? A: The absolute wealth of experiences available to students despite the pandemic: playing a holiday pops concert, going on tour with the Chamber Music Residency Program, publishing short stories, working in masterclasses, and lessons with professional musicians on Zoom and in person. Faculty are willing to offer as many opportunities as we’re willing to take on. Q: What advice do you have for new Iowa Music students? A: Your mindset is everything. It may sound trite and cliché, but it’s very true. Work with love and be humble and open. We’re lucky to be at a school where we’re surrounded by wonderful people and musicians. And never be afraid to ask your professors (or your friends) for help. Sometimes you just need someone to show you how the scanner works in the music library! Q: What are your future plans? A: I’ve recently considered pursuing my master’s degree in violin performance. I also plan to get my Suzuki certification and teach privately.
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