Rebecca Regan can’t remember a life without music. She smiles, trying to recall the moment when she discovered her musical passion, and eventually gives up. “I’ve been so surrounded by music for such a long time that nothing comes to mind, I guess.”
Growing up in a musical family, with a grandmother who taught out of her own piano studio, it was always a given that Rebecca would play music. Even as a toddler, she remembers toying with a little recorder, and she began taking piano lessons shortly after starting school. In middle school, she began playing the French horn in orchestra. However, Rebecca really found her calling as a singer. “Even as a freshman when I wasn’t taking lessons here I would go to practice rooms just on my study breaks just to sing. I would sing just any random things, like folk songs, pop songs Broadway, hymns, a bit of classical music, just anything that was in my head.” Despite all of this, Rebecca explains, “except for preparing audition pieces for country and state music competitions and festivals…I had never formally studied solo voice before coming to Swarthmore.”
Regan has taken a number of music-related courses, some of them academic, such as The Art of the American Musical with English Professor Eric Glover, and Opera History with Professor Barbara Milewski. She has also taken more practical classes, such as the private voice lessons offered through the Music 48 course, Modern Dance with Jumatatu Poe, and participated in various musical recitals and groups, including the Swarthmore Chorus and Garnet Singers (of which she is the soprano section leader).
“When I came to Swarthmore I wanted to audition for Chorus, and didn’t really expect it to go beyond that,” says Regan. “But I had always loved singing and sang a lot in my free time, and someone had suggested to me that I look into whether it would be a possibility to take voice lessons. So after my freshman year I decided I would give the Music 48 program a try. As I took voice lessons and got to know more and more people in the music department, I found myself involved in more and more projects, typically through the Fetter Chamber Music program and things like Monday lunchtime concerts.”
Regan specializes in Western art music – as she defines it, “art song, opera, and sacred music from the Baroque period into the early 20th century…my recital program, for instance, is all 19th century or very early 20th century, with a Handel aria included for a very different sound.”
The Fetter Chamber Music Program has allowed Regan to explore her musical interests; she has been regularly involved in the program since Fall 2017, and was in the ensemble of Dido and Aeneas in her freshman year. This year, she is part of the Opera Ensemble. In addition to classical music, she is interested in musical theater, and has performed in Drama Board’s Broadway Miscast event (a cabaret-like show) and the Fetter-funded performance of the opening number from Into the Woods. Regan continuously proves that all students, no matter how packed their schedules are, can be involved in Music and Dance.
In her last few comments, Regan warmly praises the Music Program, describing how
“On the whole I feel incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I have had to perform while at Swarthmore…the Music [Program] has been incredibly supportive of me from day one – especially as a non-major…and it makes me really happy to see the work that the department does to create opportunities for…students and community members who are less intensely focused on music or dance – there are so many people who are involved in an ensemble or take a dance class (like I did) or come to a workshop or performance who aren’t ‘part of the department’ but still collectively are a vital part of the arts at Swarthmore.”
“So I guess my advice to students at the beginning of their Swarthmore experience would be to keep an eye open for these experiences and take a chance on themselves. Sign up for that class! Audition for that thing! You may have a really memorable experience. And you may, like me, end up getting more involved than you ever expected and transform how you understand yourself in the process.”
While Rebecca’s plans for her future are far from concrete, she knows that she’ll keep pursuing what she loves. “Music is an integral part of my life and it would be hard to imagine not having music there at any point in the future. I mean at the end of the day,. I sing for myself. I sing because it brings me joy.” As for her future in English, she’s committed to continuing her education, but is looking for a few years of life experience outside of academia first.
Rebecca Regan’s senior recital will be on Saturday, March 23rd, at 8:00 P.M. in Lang Concert Hall. The program is composed of art songs by nineteenth and early twentieth-century composers such as Reynaldo Hahn, Ernest Chausson, Franz Schubert, Paolo Tosti, and Amy Beach. She will also perform opera arias by Georges Bizet and George Frideric Handel.
Emilie Hautemont ’20 and Andy Zhang ’22