Eastman Musician Harmonizes Her Work with Social Responsibility
Rachel Kincaid, a 21-year-old trumpet player and composer at the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music, has been awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship to pursue two advanced degrees in the United Kingdom.
She will begin a one-year master's degree program in trumpet performance next fall at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and start work on a second master's degree in music composition the following year at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Scotland.
Kincaid, an applied music major who has written pieces at the request of Eastman faculty and a Swiss music publisher, is among 37 winners of the 2008 Marshall Scholarships from across the United States and the first from the University of Rochester to earn the honor since 1988.
A native of Wooster, Ohio, where she sang in a Lutheran church choir and first picked up a trumpet in the fifth grade, Kincaid plans to use her music to move people to confront social ills, such as poverty, war, and environmental troubles.
"I want to use music to expand people's way of thinking, to make them think about something that they wouldn't otherwise," said Kincaid, who cites Krzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" among her inspirations.
"No one can listen to that piece and know the title and not think about the moral implications of using nuclear technology," she said. "Whether it changes people's opinions or not, it at least makes them think about it."
The Marshall Scholarship program was established in 1953 by the British Parliament as a gesture to the United States for assistance received after World War II under the Marshall Plan. The scholarships award highly-qualified American undergraduates and recent college graduates with two years of fully funded study at any university in the United Kingdom.
"Rachel Kincaid is an exceptional young composer and musician and we are thrilled to have her as a Marshall Scholar," said Ray Raymond, chairman of the New York Marshall Regional Selection Committee. "Rachel has that rare combination of academic and personal excellence, outstanding academic ability, grace, modesty and maturity. Her potential is limitless."
The scholarship will offer a second opportunity to learn abroad for Kincaid, who spent last year studying the trumpet at the renowned Freiburg Musikhochschule in Germany through the Eastman Conservatory Exchange Program.
"As someone whose intelligence, creativity, and drive know no bounds, Rachel represents the best of what the University of Rochester has to offer," University President Joel Seligman said. "The faculty and administrators who have worked with her have known of these attributes for some time, and we are delighted that they have been recognized by the judges of the Marshall Scholarships."
Kincaid's passion for melding music and social responsibility was inspired in part by a family trip to Guatemala, where she witnessed the stark contrast between her lavish accommodations and the impoverished surroundings.
The experience motivated her to plan to perform aid work and teach music in developing countries, where she would also study native musical traditions. Eventually, Kincaid hopes to integrate those traditions into her own music as a way of connecting her audiences with other cultures.
"Rachel's passion to take the musical experience a step further exemplifies the Eastman School's philosophy of making music matter," said Eastman School Dean Douglas Lowry. "Her initiative and creativity give her the edge to produce work that will enrich not only musical life, but the lives people live as well."
Belinda Redden, director of fellowships in the College Center for Academic Support, who helped Kincaid prepare for her pursuit of the Marshall Scholarship, said: "Music is not just art for art's sake for Rachel.
"She wants to be exposed to the larger world in a very serious way. This is not somebody paying lip service to a noble concept."