Senior Spotlight: Anya Menk

Posted on May 24th, 2022 by

Anya Menk is a Vocal and Instrumental Music Education with Honors in Composition from Le Center, Minnesota. She performed with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, the Gustavus Choir, the Gustavus Jazz Band, and the Kansas City and New Orleans Jazz Combos. Professor Patricia Snapp describes Anya as a “very talented and versatile singer. I will miss her kind and respectful manner, her enthusiasm about music, and her beautiful voice! I know that Anya will be a great success in the future as a music educator and as a graduate student when she begins her graduate work in Vocal Jazz!”

We asked Anya about her time at Gustavus and her goals for the future.

What are your plans for the future?
AM: “I will be student teaching in the fall in Cleveland, MN. Following student teaching, I plan to attend graduate school to study jazz voice.”

What will you miss most about music at Gustavus?
AM: “I’ll miss the people the most, of course! I’ve met some of my closest and dearest friends through music at Gustavus, and I will miss being able to play and sing with them everyday.”

What’s a favorite memory you have from studying music at Gustavus?
AM: “I can’t choose just one! I have so many wonderful memories with music here at Gustavus. A few highlights would be touring to Malaysia and Singapore in 2020; touring with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra my first and last year; the CBDNA conference in 2020; the MMEA conference this year; and so many more memories! Some of my favorite moments happen in everyday rehearsals, though, either when we goof around or when we’re really immersed in the music together.”

How have you grown in your time at Gustavus?
AM: “I have grown to understand not only who I am now, but who I want to be once I leave Gustavus. Before coming to college, I had not sung or played jazz music much, but now it is what I want to pursue. The jazz department here has provided me with an understanding of the dedication and persistence to the craft that will be required of me once I leave college, and I look forward to this lifelong pursuit.”

What do you look forward to most about life after Gustavus?
AM: “I look forward to just about everything about life! Building meaningful connections and making music with people is what I love to do. It’s what I’ve done here at Gustavus, and it’s what I intend to keep doing when I leave. I look forward to continual growth as a musician, educator, and person!”

What’s one piece of advice you’d give high school students considering Gustavus?
AM: “I would encourage these students to pursue what they are deeply passionate about. Gustavus has given me the opportunity to work with professors who have individualized their curriculum to fit my personal career aspirations. Every goal that I have set for myself has been supported and encouraged by my professors. This isn’t something that you could find at any regular institution; it’s something that makes Gustavus really special. So, my biggest piece of advice is to believe in yourself and to pursue what you are passionate about. If you make your dreams and goals known at Gustavus, you will have a whole community of people around you who will support you and encourage you during your pursuits.”

What has been your proudest moment in your time at Gustavus?
AM: “Something I love about jazz at Gustavus is that students are given the ability to interact and perform with faculty members and visiting guest artists. As students, we are not often given the opportunity to play or sing alongside professionals in our field(s). Our jazz professors, Dr. Dave Stamps and Dr. Masayoshi Ishikawa, create these opportunities for students regularly. During the Jazz Jamboree festival this year, I was fortunate enough to be able to perform with Masa and two visiting guest artists, JT Bates and Jeff Bailey, which was an experience that I will never forget!”

What is the most interesting class you’ve taken at Gustavus and why?
AM: “The most interesting class I’ve taken at Gustavus is definitely a Geology course called “Our Planet,” with Professor Rory McFadden. Had I not gone to a liberal arts college, I wouldn’t have learned about cleavage planes on rocks, the Glacial River Warren, glacial erratics, phaneritic vs. aphanitic minerals, etc. My passion is jazz music, but I love to learn about concepts outside of what I study, too!”


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