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UAlbany music students give their bravura finales

Findlay Cockrell and Rebekah Hiser

Findlay Cockrell and Rebekah Hiser

Speaking in public is a terrifying prospect to most people. Imagine the additional stress of singing or playing an instrument -- performing before your family and friends and showing them the talented musician you are. However, for UAlbany’s music students like Rebekah Hiser and Jared Shepard this is only another step in the process for which they are very well-prepared. Hiser and Shepard are just two of the many talented students who will be taking part in recital performances on December 1st at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center. “It’s an important point on the map of the years of practicing and exercise,” said Albin Zak, the newly appointed chair of the music department. “It can be a stressful and strenuous thing to do, but it also shows a powerful commitment.”

For senior voice major Rebekah Hiser, it is commitment resulting from a sea-change in her college plans. Life as an equine veterinarian was the life path that Rebekah saw for herself, until she took a music theory class on a whim. “That class, taught by Professor David Janower, just blew me away. It changed my life.” She auditioned before the music faculty and was accepted as a vocal student. Voice teacher Fran Whittman mentored Rebekah along the way. “Fran is wonderful and best of all she’s extremely honest,” says Hiser. “She believes in me and has made me realize that if I also believe in myself and work hard, my dreams are possible.” Hiser’s music education program was also enriched because she participated with the Chamber Singers and Chorale groups.

Because the music faculty members are also professional musicians, they are connected to the real world. “The students can trust their opinions and take advantage of who they are and know,” said Zak.

Jared Shepard

Jared Shepard


That was certainly a pivotal issue two years ago for Jared Shepard. He spent his freshman and sophomore years at another college wondering if he had the talent and skills to be a professional pianist. He had studied piano all through high school and just didn’t want to let go of it. He wanted someone to tell him if he had a future as a pianist. So he scheduled a lesson at UAlbany with professor of piano, Findlay Cockrell, who has been part of the music faculty for over 38 years. The lesson proved a good one for both Shepard and Professor Cockrell. Shepard transferred to UAlbany and Cockrell has been his mentor ever since; helping him work toward a performance career in piano. “The students get lots of attention here; there are many opportunities for professional mentoring,” says Cockrell. Jared Shepard couldn’t agree more. “I can’t imagine a more accessible faculty.”

The music student recitals are free and open to the public.

Related Links:
Performing Arts Center
Department of Music
UAlbany Events Calendar

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