Senior Spotlight: Eric Mathis

Miles Leonard

by Amelia Schafer

Q: Where is your hometown and where did you go to high school?

A: My hometown is Kansas City, but for anyone that knows the area I’m from Parkville. It’s a really small town 20 minutes away from the center of the city. I went to Park Hill High School.

Q: Why did you choose Simpson?

A: I chose Simpson sort of as a recommendation from my choir teacher. I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, because I wanted to do Opera. He told me to come up here. I only auditioned for three places for my undergrad. Those places where here, Boston Conservatory, and Missouri State. Originally, I had gone with Boston Conservatory, but the tuition said otherwise. I called Simpson two weeks before moving in thinking I’d have to take a semester off, but they said they’d accept me for this semester. The first couple of weeks were weird because I was being dropped in with no orientation, but I made a lot of really good friends who helped me to acclimate.

Q: Who are some professors in or outside your major during your time at Simpson who influenced you?

A: One of them would have to be my private instructor, Bruce Brown. He’s helped me for going on four years now. I’ve been with him since the beginning of my career. He’s helped to advise me, guide me and push me in the right direction. Since we work one on one, he’s been a source of encouragement. He posed new challenges for me and he’s been a really good influence for where my voice has gone and where I hope it will go. Another one inside my major has been Bernard McDonald. I remember my first day here I was given a large sum of money from my church choir to help pay for school books, but that fell through. I was on my own with no resources and he helped me buy used copies of book I’d need and helped me to rent books as well. He’s been a vocal coach, a teacher, and a huge help overall. Outside the department, John Pauley has helped me. I love to study philosophy and he was my SC101 leader. He has been a great help, guide, and mentor all in one.

Q: What were some of the other activities you participated in?

A: Over the years I’ve participated in a lot. Of course, I’ve been a part of Simpson College opera and all the choirs here at Simpson. I think I’ve sung in almost every ensemble. I’ve also done on the house comedy or improv comedy. I’m also part of Kappa Theta Psi and I’ve lived there all four years that I’ve been at Simpson. 

Q: If you could have any tattoo what would it be?

A: I would have a tattoo of an octopus on my right shoulder, I’m planning on getting that done actually.

Q: What’s one of your favorite memories from your time at Simpson?

A: During the opera there was actually an area that I had to strap on roller skates. I remember while practicing it, me and two other tenors in Madsen would push all the desks to the center of the classroom and skate around the peripheral while Dr. McDonald practiced. We’d just keep skating around and start in on the same area. It was kind of funny and pretty ridiculous.

Q: What’s your dream opera to perform in?

A: Dream opera? Gosh, well, how long do you have? If I had to choose one, I would say Vongrin. I really like Vaughner not only because he fits my specific vocal faucet but because his work is densely philosophical and there’s a lot there in the subject matter and musically.

Q: What are your plans for after Simpson?

A: After college I would really like to go to grad school and study vocal performance and musicology. I’ve got a few schools, both local and out on the east coast that I’m looking at right now. I’m really excited to sort of start having more of a professional career and work on some of the projects that I’ve started here at school. I’ve got a few projects that combine philosophy and music that I’m really excited to work on and I think that if I go to grad school I’ll have a really good chance to work on them and expound them to something that would be really cool and I’d be really good at.

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