Clarks Summit man makes history at Dickinson College

Last updated: May 21. 2014 10:50AM - 848 Views
By Brittney Pierce Abington Journal Correspondent



Clarks Summit native, David Cochrane, conducts a musical selection during Dickinson College's commencement ceremony on May 18. Cochrane became the first conducting major to graduate from the college.
Clarks Summit native, David Cochrane, conducts a musical selection during Dickinson College's commencement ceremony on May 18. Cochrane became the first conducting major to graduate from the college.
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David Cochrane is already creating a name for himself in the music world.


The first music major to graduate from Dickinson College with a concentration in conducting directed two processions and the alma mater for its 2014 graduation ceremony May 18.


“It was just a crazy moment,” the Clarks Summit native said, “getting to conduct this closed out my senior year.”


The 22-year-old began his collegiate career as an International Relations major, but quickly turned his attention elsewhere.


“I wasn’t planning on music, … but (the) next semester I enrolled in music classes and I ended up dropping Economics for Music Theory,” Cochrane said. “I really fell in love with it.”


The decision immediately led to challenges since Dickinson College didn’t offer conducting as a major.


“I filled out a proposal to combine two majors to make one major, the Dean shot it down before I even spoke,” he said.


Immediately after meeting with the Dean, Cochrane consulted his advisor, Robert Pound, and was surprised to find out it could be done through the music department as a “Self Developed major”.


“It fell into my hands, I was really really lucky in so many ways,” Cochrane said.


During his second semester, Cochranestudied in Moscow, Russia for a year.


“I had three goals while I was there, I wanted to referee for soccer, study with a Russian conductor, and ski in Sochi,” he said.


Eager to pursue more conducting training, Cochrane searched for a conductor to teach him.


“Turns out my host mother knew a composer who graduated from the Moscow Conservancy, Lead Conductor, Alexander Solovyez,” he said. “Basically I got the number and the coordinator called and said that a student wanted to study.”


Normally an advisor will accompany the student when they are going to meet a new teacher abroad, but Cochrane’s experience wasn’t the norm.


“She just sent me there and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I find the room and peer through the window and there’s a Russian [teacher] yelling,” he said. “I open the door and go in and sit down, I have no idea what’s going on, what he’s saying. He puts me up there and I conduct the Handel ‘Messiah’, and right there he started teaching me.”


Lessons with Solovycz continued for five months and were anywhere from half an hour to three hours.


Upon his return to the States, Cochrane concentrated on his Capstone project which was a collaboration with two other composers called “Night and Day”.


“It was a fantastic concert,” Cochrane said. “There was a week of celebrating for this project.”


The concert earned Cochrane and fellow students involved, the 2014 Weiss Prize. The Weiss Prize funds creative work by a student or students studying the arts.


“We’re obviously very proud of everything he has accomplished,” mother, Jacqueline Cochrane said. “David’s just a person who’s always been so outgoing, we aren’t really surprised.”


In the fall, Cochrane will be attending the University of South Carolina for his master’s degree in choral conducting.


“They don’t just have choirs and orchestras sitting around with no conductors,” he said. “What I love about it, it’s not about the show of me; it’s the image of emotion on your face. Having it all come together is really rewarding. I have to work harder to achieve a great final product.”

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