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June 17, 2011

U of M School of Music Super Fan of the Week: Vanessa (Northouse) Utell

vanessa.jpgIt's SOM SUPER FAN Friday! Welcome to the second edition of our new weekly U of M School of Music Super Fan feature on Facebook and beyond! SOM Super fans are SOM alumni, students, faculty, and staff who are the fabric of our musical community. Follow the SOM on Facebook to find out how you can become a SOM Super Fan. Let's meet this week's SOM SUPER FAN!

Vanessa (Northouse) Utell, B.M. (2003), music education - instrumental emphasis, French horn student of Herb Winslow

1. Where are you currently working (state, employer) or where is a favorite place where you have worked in the past?
I am finishing up my seventh year as an Elementary General Music Teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. I also teach private French horn lessons.

2. Where are you originally from (hometown)?
My hometown is Bloomington, Minnesota.

3. What was the last live performance that blew you away?
It was a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra being conducted by Emil de Cou of The Planets by Gustav Holst. The performance was last summer at the outdoor stage at Wolf Trap. There were projections on large screens of pictures from NASA of the planets, in addition to other images related to the planets. As night fell, it was inspiring to be under the stars while listening to this music and taking in the pictures of the planets. In addition, I really enjoy Emil de Cou's conducting - he reminds me of Professor Luckhardt!

4. Do you keep in touch with your U of M School of Music classmates and/or faculty mentor?
I keep in touch with several of my classmates, especially via Facebook.

5. What's your favorite thing about the U of M School of Music?
My favorite thing was the feeling of community and the opportunities that were offered. As a horn player, I played in the wind ensembles, orchestra, marching band, pep band, brass quintets, woodwind quintets, brass choir, in addition with getting together with other horn players for duets, trios or quartets. I also sang in the gospel choir, played trumpet in jazz band, played percussion and flute in University Band, conducted small ensembles, and conducted the Women's Athletic Pep band. I don't know if I'll ever have another 4 years so full of music with people who supported and cared for me.

6. Name your favorite musical moment at the U of M School of Music?
I can't choose just one! I loved it when Fredrick Fennell visited. He was wonderful with the wind ensemble, but I my most vivid memory is when he conducted the Star Spangled Banner with the marching band. He jokingly asked something along the lines of, "Is it still in three?" The Bergen Woodwind Quintet provides my other favorite musical memory. I was a member of a woodwind quintet and we called ourselves the Starving Artists. We had the best times working with flautist Gro Sandvik - she was so inspiring! The second time the group visited, Gro brought us a breadstick because she remembered that we were starving!

7. Where was your favorite place to eat/hang out on campus?
I loved eating at the Village Wok!

8. What phrase do you still hear your mentor repeating over your shoulder?
I don't have something from Herb, and it's not a phrase, but I still have Professor Diem holding my head still while I conduct so I don't sway!

9. What's most frequently on your playlist?
Now that I have a 7 month old, it's a lot of nursery rhymes and music from the Rockabye Baby series of CDs. For myself though, Jason Mraz "I'm Yours" or Plain White Tee's "Rhythm of Love" are on the top of my pop music playlist and "October" by Eric Whitacre, "Escapades: Music from Catch Me If You Can" by John Williams, "Lincolnshire Posy" by Percy Grainger.

10. What are the first three things that come to mind when someone mentions Minnesota?
The outdoors (lakes, green, boating, biking), the Mall of America, and home.