CORNISH+ featuring participant alum Silas Berlin
CORNISH+ is a new program offering one year of tuition-free study following graduation inviting students who were enrolled full-time during the 2020-2021 academic year, as well as members of the Class of 2020, to extend their studies for a full year beyond the date of their graduation, at no additional cost. The goal is to further opportunities for our recent alumnus and celebrate their tenacity and wherewithal during these uncertain times.
We caught up with Music alum, Silas Berlin, who is participating in CORNISH+ this year. We send a big thank you to Silas for sharing his Cornish experience with this alumni community.
Interview with Silas:
Where did you grow up and what was that like?
I grew up on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The island community is so strong, filled with artisans of all sorts, musicians, carpenters and farmers. But Martha’s Vineyard is only known for its summer months, where tourists from all fancy walks of life flock to the beaches. The island has a huge (though quietly known only to the locals) art scene. There is music nightly and art festivals weekly. But there is no college or university or trade school on the island, so those who pursue higher education must go elsewhere. It is hard, and from my perspective impossible, to get a career in the arts started on Martha’s Vineyard. As a classical pianist, the city is where I need to be.
What made you decide to pursue music?
My father is a jazz and blues pianist and my mother is a painter, sculptor and fine cook. There was always a creative spirit in my house as a child. I began piano at the age of six, and music became an important part of my life in high school. It was not until freshman year of college that I really discovered classical music.
Why did you decide to come to Cornish?
While visiting non-music schools with quality jazz programs here in the PMW, my father and I stumbled upon Cornish while meandering these impossible streets by car. We walked in, chatted to a very nice admin person and I decided to apply.
What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Cornish? I learned that it is completely up to me to form the early course of my artistic development and career. Cornish offered a wonderful environment to aid in the process. The faculty and student resource department are seemingly at the ready to answer questions and be of assistance. I learned the importance and the fruitfulness of asking.
You stayed for the new Cornish+ Program – what has that been like? It has been great. The program has been accommodating to my freshly graduated, busy life. It has been a pleasure to keep the muscles moving. And of course you can’t beat access to Kerry Hall!
I find that I am thinking about the courses differently and more broadly. I like taking the courses better now than I did while “in school.” I think a little break from the throngs of academic tradition as we 23 year olds have known it for most of our lives has allowed me to enjoy and appreciate learning in the school environment just that little bit more.
How has Cornish impacted your life?
Cornish has also helped me get a foot in the Seattle door, and that has been so great. Right now I am teaching piano privately. I would like to continue in the vein of private teaching. I hope to teach piano at the college level. Something I plan to become more immersed in and comfortable with is the lecture-recital. To watch a performance is one thing, but in conjunction with some history of the music, watching a performance can be incredibly illuminating and inspiring. I’ve seen some lecture recitals that have made the experience so much more precious, intimate, and of course educating. Teaching and performing. That’s the dream.