Student Spotlight: Christine de Michele ☆

By Keisha Hirlinger

Singer-songwriter, interdisciplinary artist and Master’s of Music Education student, Christine de Michele, blurs the lines between art forms, musical genres and performance practices. Join her on a visual and musical journey at her Master’s Recital Fast Forward Play Pause on Friday, May 11th at 7 p.m. in Milbank Chapel.

Your bio says that your writings and drawings were influenced by the mid-coast of Maine. Is this where you grew up? Can you tell us the name and a bit about it and why it was so influential?

It is…I grew up in Camden Maine – if you’ve ever driven through, which you can do while holding your breath, it this magical little dot of a place; cobalt blue harbor, big schooner sails up, islands in the bay. Visually, it’s just idyllic.

You came to singing later in your life, beginning your artistic expression with the visual arts. What led you to pursue music and specifically singing?

Right, so it was partially by osmosis; lots of my close friends come from musical families, and also a push from a teacher who noticed my voice, and took the time to tell me what he heard. It’s always that one teacher, right?!

What is it about improvisational music the interests you and how has that influence and interest informed your music, artistic choices/expression and multi-media projects?

The creative possibilities become endless- that’s really what excites me. The choices, the freedom to invent – all of my past projects, whether original or work I’ve done for other people, have involved some degree of improv/variation (and that all comes from a background studying jazz theory and philosophy) When I’m covering other artists, like I am for the most part for Fast Forward Play Pause (my Master’s Recital) it’s a way to stay challenged and keep things fresh -for the audience and for myself and hopefully for the other musicians too.

You recently signed with and independent publishing house? What has that done for you as a musician and composer?

Yes, in November, it’s a neat indie publishing house that represents about 20 solo artists across genres. It’s a five-year contract, so we’ll see where it can go…

What can we expect to hear on your recital? Tell us what went into this production. It is a multi-media project. What other media will we see and with/by whom? It is interesting that you chose to do an interdisciplinary/multi-media project for your recital. Tell us about this choice over the “traditional” recital?

I started putting the idea together in the summer of 2011 when I was struggling to decide on material for a performance – themes started emerging when I looked at all the pieces I was considering, and eventually, the “narrative” wrote itself.  Later, I was on a ski trip with Mallory (the visual artist on the project) over New Years, and I brought up the concept and asked if she’d be up for creating the visuals.  I’m really excited about how she has brought the piece to life. She will be controlling animation that will move in real-time with the live music.

In terms of the interdisciplinary choice – I’m really interested in how one art form can inform another, and it’s a closer representation of the way I think about music, and how I identify as an artist and an educator, so I think it was a natural choice. Why this over a traditional recital?  – It’s as much about the instrument that would be “showcased” in a recital as it is about how other elements, such as image and narrative can enhance the musical component and it’s also about the philosophy behind interpretation – interpretation of music in a literal sense, and interpretation of text, story line, color etc. It’s an ongoing experiment.

What brought you to TC to pursue your Master’s Degree? What is it about this institution in contrast to others that most interested you?

I didn’t apply anywhere else. I wanted to do course work in vocal pedagogy, childhood development, and interdisciplinary arts. I had taught music almost full time for 4 years in the Boston area with no formal education training whatsoever. I knew I wanted to learn more, and wanted that kind of intellectual saturation that you only get in graduate school.

How has your experience and interaction with your professors and colleagues influenced your work?

It’s been wonderful. Connecting with people from all over the world, and working through the same kind of arts and education issues together has been invaluable. I’ve also been thrilled to see so much focus on creativity from the professors here – that has helped in pursuing projects like this one.

What are your plans after you graduate?

I’d like to stay in the city where I’ll continue to pursue some of what I am doing now. Last year, I started working with children ages five to eight on a program that I am developing involving music and interdisciplinary arts. I’m looking into possibly proposing this type of program for an independent school that I’ve been in touch with. I’ll continue working as a vocal pedagogue/contemporary voice teacher.  Additionally, I am investigating a potential opportunity to be an artist on the roster of an independent entertainment company that would mean performing on the regular again. I graduate in December and there are a few different musical/artist paths I can imagine for my future, However, I am sure this will evolve and change with time. We shall see.

Anything else you would like for us know?

Thank you for you interest in this project! I’d love to hear from you; your notes are welcome on my site