Kelsie Harris '20

Piano performance major joins Bel Canto to broaden her musical prowess

Growing up a few blocks from the University of Redlands, Kelsie Harris ’20 would occasionally walk through campus. Attending the university was always in the back of her mind, but she did not foresee the ways in which it would help her come into her own as a musician.

As young homeschool students whose mother encouraged extracurricular activities, Kelsie and her two siblings began taking piano lessons. “My mom took piano lessons when she was young, so she thought that was a good place to start,” Kelsie says. “I ended up sticking with it because I loved it.”

While the piano didn’t appeal to her siblings, Kelsie went on to develop her skills for 13 years. “Throughout high school I studied under Dr. Angelica Prodan, who is originally from Romania, but received her doctorate from the U of R,” she said. “She studied under Professor Louanne Long, who is now my professor.”

It was Long who encouraged Kelsie to audition for the President’s Honor Recital during her first year. “I just went for it not knowing what would come out of the auditions,” she says. “But winning was just amazing, because I honestly didn’t expect to. Performing in that formal of a setting was an incredible experience.” 

To fulfill the ensemble requirement for her Music Performance degree, Kelsie joined Bel Canto, a 20-voice chamber choir. She cites being directed by Dr. Modica as one of the highlights of her education thus far. “I had never been in a choir before,” she says. “We got to tour for the California All-State Music Education Conference in San Jose and it was amazing.”

Because playing the piano is often a solitary experience, Kelsie notes that the tightknit community in the School of Music is has been hugely beneficial. “I’ve just loved meeting the people here,” she says. “It has been amazing to be a part of a community where we all share the same passion. Because I was homeschooled, I had a lot of social opportunities but they weren’t necessarily in music. It was really cool to come here and have conversations about what I’m passionate about.” 

When she’s not interacting with other music students, Kelsie stays focused: “I love the conservatory approach that the School of Music takes. It’s very intense and it’s really hard, but I’m here to learn and I definitely feel like I am.”

When she looks to the future, Kelsie hopes to use music to help others. “Music has healed me in so many ways, and I’m very interested in pursuing music therapy,” she says. “And, I’m not sure at which level yet, but I would love to teach privately. When it comes to music, I really want to pay it forward.”