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Maeve McGonigal

Maeve McGonigal, flute

Finding a Sense of Family

Why did you choose to attend the University of Iowa School of Music?

I chose the University of Iowa School of Music specifically to study flute with Professor Nicole Esposito. Originally from Southern California, I had no previous connections to Iowa, and I even committed to Iowa without ever having been here. I had known about Professor Esposito through other people who admired her as a musician and through her high level of activity as a flutist. I knew I wanted to study with her after attending one of her masterclasses in California and later taking a lesson with her. Not only was she an incredible, inspiring musician, but she was an incredible teacher, too. The excitement I felt she had when accepting me and her willingness to help me get additional information really stuck out to me when I was deciding which school to attend. Ultimately, it was my connection with her plus a generous scholarship package from the School of Music and the University itself made me choose Iowa. Now, thinking about the other schools I was considering feels so strange. I can’t imagine having spent the last four years anywhere else!

Looking back on your time here, what advise do you have for incoming freshmen?

The three biggest pieces of advice I could give incoming freshmen are these – (1) continue to be curious, (2) challenge yourself, and (3) act with integrity.

Be curious about the people and opportunities you have around you. You never know which relationships may come to fruition or what doors they may open for you. Seek out and say yes to new and different opportunities because you never know which projects are going to be the ones that get you to the next step, and you may find you like something without having known before. Be curious about the music you play and the impact you can have with it. Get to know the context of your pieces on top of the notes in them. Play for events outside of the School of Music and for different kinds of people. In general, be curious about the information around you. There is something to learn from every person, every class, and every experience, so go learn it!

Challenge yourself to achieve at high standards and to accomplish strong goals. Take on the challenge of new forms of music whether that be a new style, a new instrument, or a new type of chamber ensemble. Challenge yourself to learn the music you think is “difficult,” and learn it well. Play the piece by the student composer with no reference recording and the extended technique you’ve never tried before. You might just get your own piece out of it later! Challenge yourself in the practice room and in the classroom to be a better analyzer and develop your own thoughts, and challenge yourself outside of music, too! Doing things that help you grow as a person will also help you grow as an artist!

Lastly, act with integrity. Be honest with the people around you, but more importantly, be honest with yourself when reflecting on your own endeavors. Think for yourself and hold yourself accountable to always put your best effort forward. Achieve at the levels you are capable of even if that level is above what is required of you. It’s not always the easy way, but it is always the way to the most growth.

Please share a favorite memory from the School of Music.

Performing as principal flute for the Ireland Band tour in Spring of 2018 was an experience I will never forget. Ireland had been at the top of my travel list for as long as I could remember, and for me to get to play a mixture of music which included beautiful Irish melodies like those I had heard growing up was incredible. While there, we saw stunningly beautiful sites as well as stunningly impactful sites. We got to interact with the history, the culture, and the people, and we got to share music with many thankful musicians and audiences.  On concert was especially notable. When arriving at our concert in Northern Ireland, we were told that the concert was actually a fundraiser for two primary schools, one a Catholic school and one a Protestant school. Given the history of “The Troubles” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and the role that Protestantism versus Catholicism played in them, this was an especially touching event that I was honored to be part of. My dad had studied in Ireland in college, and I remembered him telling me he couldn’t go to Northern Ireland because of the danger. So not only was this event humbling to be part of as an international ensemble, but it was very exciting for me personally.

How has your four years at the University of Iowa School of Music set the stage for the next part of your career?

As a double major in both music and finance, I look forward to becoming a musician and business woman combined. My goal is to leverage my skills in business to make bigger impacts through music. When I came to Iowa, I had no idea I would become so involved in both music and business, but the support I have received from professors and faculty on both ends has really helped me do both.  As a flute performance student, I have participated in band, orchestra, chamber orchestra, a woodwind quintet, new music projects, and given many recitals. As a finance student, I have started a student org and been an undergraduate TA. Being heavily involved in both areas has shaped my ideas and overall goals for what I want to accomplish with music. After graduating, I hope to begin teaching younger students and continue performing with other groups of people, which my four years here have given me the skills and confidence to do. I also hope to continue working within business and begin working on a plan to bring the two together in the future.
What has most surprised you during your time at UI?

Since coming to the University of Iowa, I have found a sense of family that I don’t think I ever expected. I have had many people go above and beyond for me, whether it be inviting me to stay with them during breaks, buying me a meal, or simply supporting me in my many activities. The support I have received from my studio and professor as a musician, business woman, and person has been incredible. They are always there to cheer me on in anything I do, and their constant support has not only helped keep me motivated but has also taught me how to better support others. Of course you expect to make good friends in college, but I don’t think I could have anticipated the amount of care I’ve been shown from so many professors and faculty. Their care has been more than I could have asked for!

What did you enjoy most about living in Iowa City?

My favorite thing about Iowa City has been the balance between the large university feeling and the smaller artistic communities. I love that one weekend I can go cheer on the Hawks in Kinnick or Carver and the next I can listen to poetry readings in a coffee shop or attend a beautiful show at Hancher. I like the amount of opportunities and excitement that a large university brings during the school year but the peacefulness of downtown intermixed with fun Iowa City events like Art Fest, Farmer’s Market, and Friday Night Concert Series during the breaks. There are not many places where you can experience the craze of a big university, smaller, niche events, and exciting arts events all in one, while staying in such a friendly community – but in Iowa City, you can!

Hear Maeve perform Les Folies d'Espagne by Marin Marais (1656-1728), trans. Guy Robert:

Woodwinds Faculty