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Concordia Shanghai Alumni



Harper Lagares, Class of 2018

Harper Lagares, Class of 2108

What are some of the most memorable and impactful moments at Concordia in Choir/Fine Arts?

Oh wow. It’s impossible to even narrow it down to a few, but I’ll do my best. While I did learn a lot from getting to travel to AMIS Honor Choir, APAC festivals, and NYC and I definitely have great memories from these moments, I think the most impactful moments for me happened right at Concordia. Whether in choir or theatre, going to rehearsal meant coming together with a group of people to create, to push ourselves, and to respect one another as we explore and grow together. Walking into the choir room evoked feelings of comfort and home, as well as a desire to work hard and put my best foot forward. This being said, I think the most impactful moments for me in choir were always our concerts at Concordia, at home. Concerts were filled with intense desire to perform well for myself, my fellow singers, and the Concordia community, as well as the excitement of getting to watch my peers showcase their work. The same can be said for performing in musicals on the Rittmann stage. Being able to present my art to my community was a very impactful experience.

How did your involvement in music/the performing arts help you get where you are today?

The most basic answer to this question is that my involvement in choir and theatre led me St. Olaf College, where I now attend school. However, from a personal development standpoint, involvement in the performing arts has given me valuable skills in collaboration, creativity, commitment, and perseverance that are unparalleled in students who are not part of arts programs. The performing arts taught me how to value and respect other people’s ideas and see where they overlap with my own. The performing arts also helped me develop a personal sense of commitment and perseverance. In the performing arts, if you have a tough rehearsal, there is nothing you can do but move past it, persevere. Similarly, commitment is important, because your own dedication, focus, and even health affect the ability of the group to do their work. When a concert or show was coming up, it was my responsibility to make sure that I had memorized my music, gotten enough sleep, and had finished all my homework in order to be able to rehearse the next day. This commitment and inherent recognition of duty/responsibility has proven incredibly valuable to me in college because it makes me a more attentive student, a better, and more appreciated, group member, and a more respected individual by my professors for my positive attitude and dedication to my work.

Do you participate in any musical/theatre groups at university?

I do! I sing Alto 2 in Manitou Singers, a first year womens’ chorus. I was in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar this past November. Also, I’m involved in Deep End, a student theatre organization, and APO, a theatre honor society/service organization.

When you look back at your time at Concordia how important was your time spent in choir? And how do these memories compare to your AP classes?

Out of all of my classes at Concordia, my memories in choir are the most important. Not only did choir offer me valuable lessons in musicianship, artistry, and collaboration, it also gave me a family to be a part of and provided opportunities to travel and learn outside of the classroom. In contrast, while my AP classes may have taught me some study skills, I have virtually no memories from these classes (with the exception of AP Lit and Lang). The content I learned in my AP classes has proved of no use to me in my college experience thus far, and I don’t see it be useful any time in the future. One key reason that my choir memories are so important, whereas my AP class memories are non-existent, is that choir gave me opportunities to learn outside of the classroom and off campus. Whether it was performing a concert at school, doing Singing Valentines, or traveling internationally for a choir festival, choir experiences allowed me to practice my art while forming incredibly strong, meaningful connections with my classmates. My choir(and theatre) friends are the strongest group of friends I had in high school and are the people I still want to keep in touch with today. Long story short, choir taught me real world skills and how to collaborate with peers, tools that will be useful in life. AP classes taught me how to take notes and take a test, tools that may be useful in school, but not in life.

Are you involved in music now? Do you have plans for the future? Do you attend concerts or performances and show?

I am involved in choir at my school, as well as musical productions. Next year I am hoping to join a committee that help brings bands/music ensembles to campus for concerts. I attend any and all concerts and shows on campus, as well as go to shows and concerts in the city near me.

What will you do with your music/performing arts experiences/expertise as you go forward in life?

In terms of pursuing music/performing arts as a career, I’m not sure. I’ve always thought it would be fun to become a theatre teacher and direct musicals. But no matter what my career path, I know I am going to utilize my experience in the arts within my community. For example, volunteering/performing at a community theatre, singing in my church choir, or evening helping teach my children how to read music and sing in solfege.

Please feel free to share anything that you feel is relevant or important.

Concordia is an amazing school with many strong programs for students with interests in any field. However, that being said, I don’t think many people realize just how stellar Concordia’s fine arts programs are. When I compare my experience to what my college peers have told me about their high school fine arts programs, it becomes very clear to me what a tremendous gift it was to be able to be a part of Concordia’s choir and theatre programs. The opportunities I had and the things I got to take part in as a part of choir at Concordia far surpass those of a typical student of my age and ability. These opportunities have allowed me to grow not just as an artist, but as a person, and have beyond prepared me for college and ultimately, life.