March 11, 2009

Student Artist Spotlight: Ian Goldin '12

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Loquacious in personality and modest despite his numerous achievements, Ian Goldin ’12 has experimented with nearly every musical instrument designed, plays in the Percussion Ensemble, sings in the Cornell University Glee Club and is a member of The Hangovers. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also recently been elected Musical Director of The Hangovers, a rare honor for a freshman. As he begins by quipping “Ian Goldin needs a haircut; make sure you put that in!” this “Superhero” talks about his interests in music and what it means to be a member of The Hangovers.
Sun: Ian Goldin the Superhero. Tell me how you got that title?
Ian Goldin: I don’t know, I suppose it seems a little bit more interesting than it actually is and I could probably make something up that sounds really cool. But I suppose I do a lot of things and when I came into the group, they asked me for my bio so I threw something together real quick. Superheroes are just my personality type.
Sun: According to your biography on The Hangovers’ website, you play the percussion, the piano and the bassoon?
I.G.: Yes. I’ve been playing piano since I was in first grade, classically; then I took a break and then in high school I started playing jazz piano. So I guess since the beginning of high school … [though] I think in my whole life really, I’ve wanted to learn every instrument possible, I’ve just been fascinated [by them]. So I started triangle when I was in 3rd grade for two months and then I just dropped it. I’ve been taking percussion lessons for a while now — the fact that there are so many instruments in that one category really inspired me to do that.
In high school I started playing the bassoon. Literally, I asked my band director, “Hey, do you happen to have a bassoon lying around?” and he was like, “Yeah, I just found one the other day!” And so he just gave it to me and I started taking lessons and ended up playing [it] in the concert just a few weeks later; it was pretty cool. So I played the bassoon in high school and I played trombone in high school as well. I could keep going — I’ve experimented with pretty much every instrument.
Sun: What got you into music?
I.G.: I guess it probably started when I was two; it was sort of a subconscious thing. My whole family is musical … they are all evolved musically. When I was two, one of my older brothers got into a Broadway show that was touring the United States. He and my mom and myself went around the United States for a year and two months, I believe. So I was always around professional musicians, the whole time; I was always around professional singers — the [orchestra] pit traveled with us and I was allowed to go down to the pit because I was such a good boy! [Grins]
I think that [traveling with the show] sort of subconsciously sparked an interest. From then on, both of my brothers would be practicing in the house all the time, playing different instruments. It helped having older brothers. First of all the musical tour wouldn’t have happened and them practicing all the time wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know if there was one particular event that sparked my interest in learning about music or about the various instruments, but I could pretty much describe to you instances for example where I said, “Oh man I really want to learn how to play this!”
Sun: When did you start singing?
I.G.: I started officially singing in tenth grade — I joined the Select Chorale that was the upper-level chorus when I was in high school. And it happened that my brother, Andy, also went to Cornell before me. So he was in the Glee Club and he knows Scott Tucker [conductor of the Glee Club] very well and he was in The Hangovers. I remember going home from Fall Tonic the first time with The Hangovers CD in my CD player and just looping it over and over and over again, until I got home. And that right there — I wrote my college essay on some of this stuff — was a huge, huge influence, that first concert. And from then on I would always be talking to Andy about it, getting more songs. And then when I was in 10th grade in high school, I started my own a capella group in high school, but it fell apart really terribly.
Sun: : What is about a cappella that got you so interested in it?
I.G.: The concept of singing in general is so weird if you think about it. You breathe air through your vocal chords and making sounds that create emotion in other people. So, the singing aspect of it and specifically the arrangements — there are so many phenomenal arrangements out there that you just don’t hear in other styles of music. It’s more interesting to hear voices imitating or rather replacing other instruments with new sounds, sounds that most of the time trick the audience, because if it is a good arrangement when you start singing everyone knows which song you are singing. But there are no instruments! And you can sing it anywhere, I mean we don’t have to pack up our instruments or anything — we can just go over to Bailey Hall or Balch Arch and start singing.
Sun: What has the experience been like so far?
I.G.: It’s fantastic. As Musical Director of The Hangovers, there’s that certain level of respect that you get automatically, but at the same time you’re still a Hangover and you are not above anybody else. But your word, for some reason or the other, means more or has more weight. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to run rehearsals and be able to hang out with the guys at the same time. When I actually got [the position] I was like, “This is awesome but this is also really scary and I have actually no idea what I am doing” — even though I did, I didn’t really. [Anyway,] I’m not alone right now; the old M.D. is still here so I am still working very closely with the previous M.D., Ben Rosenfield ’09.
Sun: What do The Hangovers mean to you?
I.G.: I have the most fun making music in The Hangovers, [more] than in any other ensemble I think. And that’s not just because of the camaraderie that we all share. The Hangovers — since my brother has been part of the group — I have always seen as the coolest guys on campus. These guys happen to be awesome guys and they are nice and fun to hang around. And obviously, they are a smart bunch of people. These are the type of people I want to be around for the rest of my life. As I have seen from the history, as I have seen from my brother — he’s been to so many weddings with fellow Hangovers and these are people that I expect to be inviting to my wedding. And I expect them to be inviting me to their weddings. And I can’t wait for it; I am excited. The Hangovers mean friendship and incredible music all at once.
Sun: What do you see as the future for the Hangovers and your involvement with the group?
I.G.: The future of the Hangovers always is building off of what we have — more modern music but keeping our traditions. Something that a lot of a capella groups do is they arrange new music which is on the Top Ten charts and they are always doing that and they never go back to traditional oldies music, stuff the parents really like. I think the Hangovers are doing a really good job of balancing so many different genres of music and so that we have to continue.
Sun: : What do you plan to do once you graduate?
I.G.: I ask myself that question everyday. I have pretty much no idea what I’m going to be doing as a career. I sort of see myself conducting in some way, shape or form, possibly a choir or a band or something. I didn’t come into college saying, “I want to study this or that,” I just wanted to study music. So I’m taking psychology and music as my majors and we’ll see what happens with that.