Gibson '98 directs Handel musical

by Ki Mae Heussner | 5/4/98 5:00am

Ask anyone who knows Joanna Gibson '98 to tell you what kind of person she is, and they will inevitably comment on her contagious laughter and sense of humor. Like her laughter, Joanna's excitement with music is contagious and has rubbed off on those around her.

Since the age of five, Gibson has been a self-proclaimed "music-lover" and pianist. During her freshman fall at the College, Gibson began her musical odyssey with weekly piano lessons under the teaching of Music Professor Sally Pinkas. Four years later, she will graduate as a music major hoping to enter graduate programs in orchestral conducting.

Gibson entered Dartmouth seriously considering to pursue either a government or history major. During the winter of her sophomore year, however, Gibson realized that most of the classes she hoped to take were in the music department and that most of her interests lay in the musical world.

"Joanna tried her hand at a bunch of disciplines her freshman year," Laura Guogas '98, a close friend, said. "But when she discovered music, her determination multiplied because she was so excited to study music. Music isn't just a major for her, its a way of life." Guogas was persuaded to join the Handel Society because of Gibson's enthusiasm.

In 1996, under the encouragement of Pinkas, Gibson applied and was accepted to the Music Foreign Study Program in London. According to Gibson, the Music FSP was one of the most amazing experiences of her life and one of the major factors in deciding to pursue a music major.

"I have always loved music and I really solidified that in London," she said. It was during her FSP that Gibson encountered the inspiration for her honors thesis. Gibson saw one of Handel's works, "Acis and Galatea," which is a dramatic musical work based on a myth from Ovid's Metamorphosis. According to Gibson, this piece is some of the best music that Handel ever wrote. After Gibson returned to Dartmouth she applied for an honors thesis to produce and direct "Acis and Galatea."

Gibson's performance of "Acis and Galatea" will be performed on May 30 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. in Faulkner Recital Hall in the Hopkins Center. In this performance, Ainsley Ryan '00, Ned Holbrook '00, Matt Kramar '00 and Nick Vogt '00 will be playing the leads. Other Dartmouth students, as well as various local professionals, will comprise the fifteen member chorus and the nine member orchestra.

Aside from working on her honors thesis, Gibson also is a pianist in a Chamber Quartet and sings in the Handel Society. Just recently, Gibson performed her Senior Recital, for which she had to practice six hours a day. For this recital, which took place at the end of last term, Gibson performed a Brahms Rhapsody and Beethoven's "Sonata Pathetique."

Gibson has garnered several awards at Dartmouth. She has received the Peter D. Smith Initiative Award and Lazarus Family Musical Theatre Funding and is a member of the Senior Scholars program.

The funding from these awards has been used to cover costs for her production of "Acis and Galatea." Just recently, Joanna received the Eugene Roitman Memorial Award, "to recognize outstanding dedication to music and to encourage further study and advancement in musical performance or composition."

After graduating, Gibson hopes to continue her studies in orchestral conducting somewhere in London. Gibson has certainly made a place for herself within the Dartmouth music community and no doubt she will make her mark on the world at large.

"She loves music with great passion, to the point where, if she could, she would become pianist, conductor, musicologist (to name but few)," Pinkas wrote in an e-mail message. "We will miss her in the Music Department when she leaves, and I will be most curious to see which of her many hats she will adopt for good!"