Violin, Viola, Voilà! Meet Rosemarie Webster
Rosemarie Webster is a seriously busy student; one could even say doubly so. A freshman at Keene State College, she is pursuing a double major in music and English.
Choosing a major is challenging enough for any student but going for two requires a lot of heavy lifting: more core courses, fewer electives, a lot of energy, determination, commitment and work — all while remaining equally devoted to and interested in both subjects and their demands.
Rosemarie comes to Keene from Hanover High School. Her mother is the director of the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College, and her father, a former actor, created Dartmouth’s Opera Lab, where he is also a director, producer and writer.
Why then, with her proximity and connections to Dartmouth, did Rosemarie opt to enroll at Keene State College?
“It’s like a secret conservatory,” she said. Conservatories specialize, placing greater importance on training world-class performers than do most liberal arts colleges.
“Plus,” she said, “I was very impressed with (KSC’s president) Dr. (Melinda) Treadwell. You can talk to her; she is very accessible. The principal at Hanover High was the same way.”
The event that cemented her decision to join KSC occurred after the college’s long-time orchestra leader Don Baldini retired and the search for his replacement began. Rosemarie, who had been admitted but was not yet enrolled, was invited to be part of the review board charged with hiring the new orchestra leader.
She was extremely impressed with the process and the willingness the board had in taking student opinion into account when making its final decision. The new orchestra leader is Dr. Nadège Foofat, whom Rosemarie credits with her returning to the viola after a six-year absence from the instrument.
Rosemarie, who plays the violin and viola — skills she has been honing since she was five years old — also felt that the students at KSC were very serious about being music professionals. She considered the KSC professors to be uncommonly devoted to pushing students, challenging them, making them live up to their own goals and expectations — and beyond.
Additionally, she liked the atmosphere on campus, finding it friendly and safe.
When asked who her musical inspirations are, Rosemarie cites violinist Gil Shaham without skipping a beat, “He was my idol when I was growing up. He is very expressive and is a perfectionist, but not at all an egotist; he’s very humble and grateful. Oh, and Itzhak Perlman because, well, he’s Itzhak Perlman!” she laughed.
Her own personal process for learning and understanding a piece of music is to initially play it cold without regard to inaccuracies and then go online to watch videos of other musicians’ interpretations. Then she’ll go back and play it slowly, with the aid of a metronome.
“Conquering the 16ths section is the most difficult area,” she said. She also cautions that, while it’s very important to establish one’s drive, students must also exercise a certain level of prudence and not overdo it. “Know your limits!” she urges.
Her future ambitions go a long way to explain why Rosemarie chose to double major in music and English: She hopes to become a travel writer and explore the countries and cultures she visits through the prism of their music.
Rosemarie Webster, violinist, violist, writer, Keene State College student, offers this final thought: “I know I can achieve.” With that surety, that powerful confidence, who could possibly doubt it?