Cellist Yeagle enjoys diverse music opportunities
Cornell College is not a music conservatory, and that’s just fine with cello performance major Anna Yeagle. Her performance interests have been supported with small groups tailored to her needs, and her research skills honed with two off-campus experiences alongside museum professionals. She’s even found a way to share and enjoy music 24/7 by cofounding Octave, a Living Learning Community.
What performance opportunities do you have at Cornell?
This semester is full of performance opportunities for me. In January I will be working with Dr. Thull as a pit musician for the Lyric Theater production of Chekov’s “The Lady With the Pet Dog.” In March I will play a movement from Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 as a soloist with the orchestra. In April I will perform Schubert’s String Quartet Op. 29 No. 13 with the string quartet as well as Brahms’ Clarinet Trio Op. 114 in a string recital.
I will conclude the year with my senior recital. The primary piece I have been preparing is Chopin’s Cello Sonata in G Minor Op. 65, a unique sonata he wrote at the end of his life. Chopin rarely wrote for instruments other than piano, and so it has been exciting, and also very difficult, working on this major piece as my capstone performance project.
In 2009, you interned for the summer at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota. What did you do there?
I spent 12 weeks working with the head archivist and the curatorial director to catalog part of the museum’s collection of zithers as well as a few other string instruments. Aside from my primary curatorial role, I also assisted the director of education with her youth summer workshops and gave tours around the museum. Overall, I experienced life in a museum; I familiarized myself with research protocol and general museum practices such as collection preservation, storage, cataloging, filing, and archiving.
You also studied in Chicago at the Newberry Library?
Yes, in spring of 2008, I took the music topics course Wagner and Wagnerism with Dr. James Martin. This class afforded me the chance to work in a world-class library in a major urban area and was crucial in developing my early interest in musicological research. I basically had the entire Newberry collection at my disposal which was intimidating, though also fascinating and highly rewarding. I produced a 23-page paper relating to the role of nationalism in the development of Wagnerism in America, a synopsis of which I presented the following spring at the Cornell Student Symposium.
What was the motivation behind forming Octave?
Octave is a big experiment in a lot of ways. Eight music students came together with the idea of living together, working together, and naturally, playing music. Our primary undertaking this year, and what I have most enjoyed, has been teaching free music lessons to elementary-aged youth in Cedar Rapids every Saturday morning. I have enjoyed getting to know my student and allowing her to be involved in music.
What has been best about studying music at Cornell?
I have had the almost unheard of opportunity to, in part, shape the curriculum around me. Since I am the only string performance major in the department, the department has essentially built up a string program to accommodate my performance needs, such as in my junior year when Cornell started a string quartet program. At the end of my junior year I was able to approach my cello professor with the idea of creating an additional chamber ensemble, which the department accepted with open arms.
The small size of the music department facilitates open dialogue between students, faculty, and adjunct faculty to intimately meet the needs of its majors. Even though I have not attended a conservatory or a university with a school of music, I have had great training as a musician because of the personalization I have received.
Any plans/goals after Cornell?
In the next year I hope to use my performance background to privately teach a few beginning students and gig around the southeastern Iowa area. I would ultimately like to attend graduate school for musicology and am currently looking into other summer internship opportunities that will give me further professional experience.