Björling Scholarship Supports Music Majors and Non-Music Majors

Posted on March 22nd, 2021 by

Gustavus Adolphus College prides itself on having a high-quality music program that allows students to stay involved in music—even if they don’t major in it. The Jussi Björling Music Scholarship program works to bring talented musicians to Gustavus by connecting students with funding regardless of their educational focus.

Jack Raway ’24 says that the Gustavus Choir has been his rock throughout his first year at Gustavus.

First-year Björling Scholar Jack Raway ’24 chose Gustavus because of his ability to major in something else while still being involved in music. “It was a combination of strong music and good academics,” he says. “But really, I’ve always been pretty heavily involved in music. It’s something that’s really important to me, but it’s also not something that I really ever wanted to pursue as a career, so I wanted something that was going to both be able to hit on the kind of ensembles that I wanted to be in as my fun activity and then also have the academic rigor that I wanted for my actual major,” Raway says.

There are currently nearly 400 Björling Scholars on campus, and around 100 new music scholarship winners are expected to arrive on campus in the fall. 

“To be quite honest, I actually never heard of Gustavus until the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra went to my high school during my junior year,” Junior Björling Scholar Alex Chou ’22 says. “Just being able to meet with the students, and in particular the conductor, Dr. Ruth Lin, that kind of set it in for me, because they all had this vibrant energy, this welcoming atmosphere, this sense that they wanted to really get to know you and everything, and and from then on, Gustavus just stood out to me,” he says.

Alex Chou ’22 visited Penang on the Malaysia/Singapore tour with the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and Gustavus Jazz Ensemble.

Chou is a junior history major with a Japanese studies minor, and he plays Violin I in the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra. Chou says his favorite music experience has been the tours, specifically the international tour to Malaysia and Singapore last year. “Not only did we get to work together with the youth symphony orchestras at the time and got to share music with them and everything, but we also got to get immersed in the culture within Malaysia and Singapore,” he says.

Raway says that while he was worried choir wouldn’t be normal this year due to COVID-19, it’s been a good experience so far. “With choir, for a lot of the year it’s kind of been my rock, because that’s like the one thing that’s very similar to how it was before. It was like okay, I know what I’m doing, how I’m doing this, this is normal, so honestly it’s been a really good experience so far,” he says.

Senior vocal music education major Jocelyn Jaimez ’21 says that Christmas in Christ Chapel (CinCC) has been her favorite music experience at Gustavus. “As a senior doing my last CinCC this year when everything was so different was heartbreaking in a way, because we had no idea that last year was going to be, you know, our last normal CinCC. But I definitely still felt some closure when we sang ‘O Come All Ye Faithful,’” she says.

“I hope that when I forget everything else, that I remember Christmas in Christ Chapel because that’s something that is so, so essential to who I am as a Gustie and to my experience here,” Jaimez says.

Jocelyn Jaimez ’21 went on the Music Capitals of Europe Tour with the Gustavus Choir in 2019. She recommends that all music students try to go on an international tour during their years at Gustavus. “It’s the best group of people that you’ll ever get to go abroad with,” she says.

Senior associate dean of admission and music scholarship coordinator Alan Meier ’87 says that anyone interested in music at Gustavus should apply to the program. “Apply for the scholarship because you have nothing to lose! If you plan to continue in music, in one way or another, there is no reason not to apply for this scholarship,” he says.

The Jussi Björling Music Scholarship is a $2,000-8,000 annual scholarship offered to incoming music students. Students do not have to major or minor in music to qualify. The audition process consists of recording a video of two pieces in contrasting styles. From there, selected applicants will be invited on to campus for an in-person audition. To maintain the scholarship, students must participate in one college-sponsored music ensemble and take music lessons. The deadline for this year was February 1, but keep an eye out for next year’s application. Please contact Alan Meier with any questions.

Those who wish to contribute to the Jussi Björling Music Scholarship fund should contact Jennifer Vickerman (507-933-6042 or jvickerm@gustavus.edu) in the Gustavus Advancement Office.

 

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