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“If it weren’t for my HCC professors, there’s absolutely no way I could’ve navigated conservatory successfully. . . I discovered a skill I didn’t even know I had! HCC has so many different types of classes and some amazing teachers.”
After earning her GED in 2011, Brooke Dircks had no idea what she wanted to do with her future. Her parents strongly encouraged her to continue her education, so the Bel Air native decided to enroll at Harford Community College.
Brooke had an interest in sociology and psychology and took a variety of classes. She learned about alternative therapies such as expressive therapies, which utilize mediums such as music and art, and was captivated. Although she always loved music, she had never pursued it formally. “I thought it would be fun to take voice lessons and since it would count toward my electives, I figured I’d give it a try.” Brooke eventually decided to switch her major from psychology to music.
She graduated with an associate degree in music from HCC and earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 2017 from one of the most distinguished music schools in the country, the New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in music there.
Brooke said if it were not for her wonderful experience at Harford, she never would have pursued a music career. “I wouldn’t have even known that I could sing!” She credits Madeleine Gray, her voice teacher, and Dr. Joseph Satava, her piano teacher, with helping her to achieve her goals. “I am eternally grateful for their time and support. If it weren’t for them, I would not have been accepted into NEC.”
She has high praise for Harford Community College and said she would definitely recommend it to others. “Looking back, I’ve realized how incredible the music faculty is. If it weren’t for my HCC professors, there’s absolutely no way I could’ve navigated conservatory successfully. I was frequently inspired with the level of talent and drive of my peers.” Brooke added, “I discovered a skill I didn’t even know I had! HCC has so many different types of classes and some amazing teachers.”
Brooke, a soprano, has seen her music career take off since her years at Harford. Last summer, she placed third in the Meistersinger Competition in Graz, Austria. In December, she won an encouragement grant from the Wagner Society of New York. “I’ve sung Lady Billows and Miss Jessel in Benjamin Britten’s operas Albert Herring at New England Conservatory and Turn of the Screw at Miami Music Festival, Wagner’s Waltraute Die Walküre at New England Conservatory, and Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at New England Conservatory,” she said. This summer, she’s performing Freia in Richard Wagner’s opera Das Rhinegold as a Featured Artist with Pittsburgh Festival Opera.
She has been awarded a number of scholarships. At HCC she received a Music Merit Scholarship. As an undergraduate at New England Conservatory, she received a Presidential Distinction Scholarship; as a graduate student, she received the Bertha C. and Edward Rose Scholarship as well as a second Presidential Distinction Scholarship.
Brooke has this advice to other students who plan to study music, “Listen to everything you can, and more importantly, go to as many live performances as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And just practice, practice, practice!”
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