When asked about his post-graduation and career plans, music major Asher Wolf ’18 replies without hesitation, “I want to be a rockstar.” On campus, Asher proudly displays his self-described “obsession” with music in many ways. He has written a classical piece performed last semester on strings by the professional Jasper String Quartet, as well as a choral piece to be performed this semester by the Swarthmore College Garnet Singers. He has performed on campus in various student bands and has branded himself under the moniker “Glom.” In all appearances, Asher “Glom” Wolf is well on his way to becoming a rockstar.
Asher’s love for music began before he can remember, before he believes he had “formed a sense of self.” According to his parents, Asher was always drawn to the guitar and loved sad cowboy songs as a young child. Fast forward to today, and Asher can be found listening to anything and everything, absorbing as much music as he can. “I’m at the point where I have this skill to be able to hear music that’s unfamiliar to me, of a different style that I don’t know very well, and be able to enjoy it. Now I kind of just love everything.”
Asher attributes his open and diverse appreciation of music to his Swarthmore experiences. “The world’s kind of opened up to me with music since I’ve been here.” Upon arriving at Swarthmore, Asher had not yet chosen his major, nor realized his lifelong path in pursuing music. He remembers discussing his academic plans with a high-school friend who told him, “All you talk about is music.” At first offended, Asher reflected on the statement and came to a self-realization. “I decided to be a major then when I realized that it was obvious that I was totally obsessed with music, and that it would be silly to do something non-music related with my life.”
Although he claims to have taken on the role of “devil’s advocate” with the music department, expanding his focus to include folk, rock, jazz, blues, pop, bluegrass, and funk, Asher admits that he also loves the classical repertoire he studies. However, his passion for diverse genres has manifested in an interest in ethnomusicology within his music studies. When asked to describe his major, Asher explains, “The discipline of music theory is very internal. It’s about taking a piece of music and then burying your head in it and waiting for your eyes to adjust then looking around and figuring out how it ticks. Which is awesome and necessary for understanding music, but I also care about looking at music in a more contextualized way. So what that means for me is combining it with studies in sociology and philosophy, describing how music works the way it does and how musical meaning is conveyed.”
After graduating, Asher hopes to teach music in Philadelphia while performing and working on his songwriting. Although he is set on his ultimate goal of being a rockstar, he sees his path getting there as more unclear. “If [teaching] doesn’t work, then I’ll get some kind of day-job, hopefully something music-related like a music establishment, performance venue, or guitar store. If not, I’ll wash dishes or wait tables, something to free my brain up so I can do brain things while I make money. Basically, just somehow make a living until people…I don’t really know what happens after then, but maybe till people notice you and sweep you up to heaven?” More seriously regarding his goals for the future, Asher says, “I say ‘rockstar’ kind of facetiously, in homage to my twelve-year-old self, but I want to be a musician. I want to be an artist. I want to make original music and have people hear it and be the kind of musician that brings joy and substance to others’ lives.”
Maya Kikuchi ’20