“The fountains mingle with the river, and the rivers with the ocean; the winds of heaven mix forever with a sweet emotion.”
“Love’s Philosophy,” published in 1819 by poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, discusses the connection that exists between everything in the world and, more specifically, the connection between the narrator and the object of their affection. Senior music therapy and music education dual major Alaina Stroud performed this poem, which was set to music by Roger Quilter and is a perfect metaphor for Stroud’s love of music, to compete for a scholarship on Nov. 4.
Stroud won first place at the Chad Williamson Memorial Scholarship competition; 14 student vocalists competed this year. The competition is an annual event held in honor of the late Chad Williamson, who passed away a short time before he was to attend SRU as a vocalist.
Stroud’s music career began in the fifth grade on the saxophone, performing in her school band. She didn’t start singing until high school when she started taking voice lessons to try and get the lead in her high school musical.
“I didn’t get it,” Stroud said with a laugh. “But after that, I joined choir and got involved with musicals, and when I auditioned for the music program at SRU, I auditioned on voice.”
Stroud said her preparation for the competition was long, much of it dedicated to translations both literal and metaphorical.
“There are the literal translations, what the internet will give you, and the poetic translation, or what the song really means to you and what you think the composer was trying to convey,” Stroud said. “[The competitors] also had the opportunity and luxury of coaching from James Lesniak, who works with the Pittsburgh Opera. That was awesome.”
In choosing the pieces she was going to compete with, “Love’s Philosophy” and “Glück, das mir verblieb (Joy, that near to me remained)” from “Die tote Stadt (The Dead City)” by Erich Korngold, Stroud said she and Dr. Christopher Scott wanted music that had some contrast, displaying her vocal ability. Scott is an associate professor of voice in SRU’s department of music.
In addition to the scholarship competition, Stroud also spent this semester preparing for her senior recital, which took place on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m., and leading three different organizations in the music department. She partnered up with friend and fellow senior music major Quinton Herriot to perform six pieces at her recital; “Love’s Philosophy” was among the three English pieces she chose.
Along with her typical responsibilities as a music major, Stroud is also the president of both the Marching Pride and the Music Therapy Club and the vice president of SRU Choirs. Her leadership, she said, has given her many new opportunities to work with her peers and other people in general, which is what she wanted to do when she first decided on her major.
“Being able to be a leader has given me a lot of really good opportunities to learn how to work with peers and people,” Stroud said. “When I decided my major, I knew I just really wanted to reach more people and touch more lives. It sounds cheesy, but that’s what I want to do.”
Stroud is currently in a music therapy clinical placement at Rhoades Estates in New Castle. She has one more year at SRU to finish both degrees, and after graduation, she hopes to move on to graduate school.
“After that, wherever the wind takes me, I will be happy,” Stroud said.