Alumni Spotlight: Clara Smith

Today’s post is written by guest blogger and CPLS Alumna Clara Smith. Clara is currently a senior at Missouri State University, studying vocal performance and vocal music education. She is the President of the Choral Studies Department at MSU and plans to pursue a masters and doctorate in choral conducting with an emphasis on vocal technique.

I grew up in a family that loves music and encourages self-expression so I was blessed to become involved in music at a young age and was able to continue that involvement throughout my high school career. I knew that I wanted to do music but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about it. I realized that choral conducting was the path I needed to pursue when I became a member of the Missouri State University Chorale.

CPLS encourages excellence in all aspects, especially in the fine arts. My involvement in the dramas, musicals , choir and madrigals allowed me to be exposed to a high level of artistry very early on. This standard of excellence serves as an incredible bridge into upper level education and made the transition into collegiate music rather seamless. I think that the most important lesson I learned at Cair Paravel was the necessity of integrity. The world outside of the wardrobe is a very different one. There is so much beauty but with that comes its vice. No matter where you go or what you do, the importance of staying true to yourself and the values you learn and cherish at Cair Paravel are the greatest security an individual can have.

I have had many incredible travel opportunities at Missouri State due to my involvement in the University chorale. My freshman year I spent 18 days touring throughout South Africa, singing with South African choirs, going on late night and early morning safaris in Kreuger National Park and seeing what true kindness and hospitality looks like around the world. After that, I spent 9 days in Paris and a day in London with my private voice studio studying and performing French melodie. This last summer I spend 18 days traveling throughout Scandinavia. We visited Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The sights that I saw were truly breathtaking. We took a speedboat tour through the fjords of Norway, hiked through farms in the mountains of Sweden, sang Swedish folk tunes on the cliffs of Mollösunds gästhamn and were privileged to stay with the kindest families I have ever met. We then traveled to China as the premier American choir in their biennial international music festival. While we were there we spent the majority of our time in Beijing and some time in Khaili and Lanzhou. We hiked the Great Wall of China and spent 18 days learning how to eat with chopsticks. We met people from all around the world, Canada, Venezuela, Israel, Russia and so many more. This summer we will be going to Massachusetts and New York to sing in some of Americas most beautiful performance venues. I will also be traveling throughout Ireland with many members of the choir.

We have also had many incredible opportunities within the United States. We were selected to perform in the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. This performance is one that I will always cherish. The choir performed a piece entitled, “Now We Belong”. This piece encourages hope in times of hardship, courage in times of fear and to love one another at all times, to feed love. Our choir stands by the belief that music has the power to create an atmosphere of unity and belonging to those who encounter it and I could not imagine spending my life doing anything else.

To current CPLS students, I would say that our world desperately needs art, and art is a universal beauty. There is a need for the fine arts all around the world. If the fine arts are your passion, pursue them. Whether it is music, art, acting, there will always be a need for it. Cair Paravel is an incredible place with teachers who see this need and provide incredible instruction to their students enabling them to fulfill it. Use the gifts God gave you for there is no better way to glorify Him.