Andrew Plaisier, who graduated from Calvin in May 2016, acquired a cello in the fourth grade, somewhat on a whim. "I showed up to a try-your-instrument day [at school], and my friend and I both went home with a cello," he laughed.
Although Andrew's grandmother, parents and two sisters graduated from Calvin as well, he was the first of his family to major in both music and biology. With this rare combination of majors, Andrew proved that one can have the best of both worlds in pursuing their educational interests at Calvin.
"Your major doesn't always define what your life will look like at school," he said. "The fact that I was a music and biology double-major could have meant that I was doing tons of lab work and research with biology, but I was more focused on music. I think biology is just as important [as music], but looking back on my four years, I did focus a lot more of my time on music."
Opportunities in music and research
As a Calvin student, Andrew would practice cello between an hour and a half to four hours a day, not including three orchestra practices and two string practices a week. He won the Calvin concerto competition his sophomore and senior years, was awarded music scholarships each year and had multiple solo student recitals and orchestra performances. On top of that, he was able to manage the rest of his schoolwork and do research with his biology advisor his senior year.
"Calvin is small enough to allow students to do lots of different things. In biology, it's small enough that most students are able to do research with professors in some way or another. On the music side of things, it was big enough that there were lots of events going on with student recitals and festivals, but small enough to get opportunities to play in different things," Andrew said.
Be connected to people, even if it's a slim connection—that's how opportunities happen. God used people around me to give me opportunities. I'm really thankful for my time at Calvin and all the people that made [the experience] what it was.
Andrew is thankful for the ways of thinking that he learned from his biology classes, which are now beneficial to his life. He can see himself having a biology-related job in the future, but for now he is focusing on music opportunities, like L'Orchestre de Francophonie in Montreal, Quebec. Andrew spent six weeks this summer in Montreal with approximately 60 other musicians, learning and performing new pieces from composers that had never been played before. A highlight for Andrew was performing Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 2," also known as the "Resurrection Symphony," a monumental work that Plaisier said most classical musicians love.
The next step
Andrew hopes to continue growing as a musician and cellist, both technically and musically, and plans on continuing with private lessons and is interested in possibly becoming a professor of music someday. Right now, he's in a two-year cello performance master's program at the University of Michigan in the studio of Anthony Elliot.