Hitting the Right Note with Mallarie Charbonneau '16

February 25, 2016

Mallarie Charbonneau

Mallarie filled us in on playing in the Colleges of the Fenway Orchestra — and winning the student conducting competition!

What are you studying at Simmons?

I'm a philosophy and history double major on the pre law track.

What drew you to your major?

I ended up in a philosophy class by mistake and I’ve been hooked ever since. I was drawn to philosophy because it teaches you how to navigate through complicated text and summarize the overarching logic of an argument. I loved history in high school, which led me to explore it further at Simmons. I’ve learned that both fields of study are great paths to prepare for law school, which is the long term goal of my educational journey.

What's your favorite class you've taken so far?

Theories of Justice with Dr. Diane Grossman! The course took traditional concepts of morality and justice and applied those theories to real court cases. The final paper required us to choose a recent court decision and apply the theories of three different philosophers. As difficult as it was, I ended up writing something I found super interesting. Overall, the course was challenging at times but by far the most fascinating class I’ve taken.

Tell us about winning the Student Conducting Competition.

The orchestra conductor, Kathleen, chooses a piece at the beginning of the spring semester and gives the candidates 2 weeks to prepare to audition with the live orchestra. I auditioned my sophomore year with Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, better known as the “Can-Can”. The trickiest part of that piece is controlling the tempo, as it speeds up as it nears the end.

Lots of conductors put their own spin on how they have their orchestra perform the piece. I spent most of my time practicing clarity of the dynamics as well as articulating tempo changes. After Kathleen announced me as the winner, I had the remaining weeks to rehearse the orchestra to prepare them for the concert, where I had the privilege of conducting the piece. There was something special about being the person who led a group of 50 musicians to play together to create something beautiful. When you play the violin, you are one piece of an exquisite puzzle, but when I conducted; I was able to make all the pieces fit together.

What's it like being in the Colleges of the Fenway Orchestra?

I absolutely love the COF orchestra! I've played the violin for 15 years now so it’s safe to say it’s an important part of my life. I requested an audition before my first semester at Simmons and I've been a part of the group ever since. The group is supportive and very relaxed at rehearsals. Kathleen encourages us to always play with confidence and embraces our mistakes in a positive way that promotes improvement. There is something really special about getting together with students from all over the Fenway to play beautiful music and I'm really thankful to be a part of that.

What's your Simmons moment?

I don't really have one spectacular spotlight moment that sums up why I love Simmons; I have a thousand. I adore my classes, my professors have been incredible and the coursework is challenging and informative. Some days I have 8 Simmons moments before lunch, whether it be in the classroom, around the halls or at work.

Overall, my time at Simmons taught me what it means to be a feminist and how to stand by my principles no matter where life takes me. I've learned how to speak and write clearly in order to voice my opinions and arguments. Simmons has helped me build a strong foundation on which my continued education and professional career will rest. For this reason, I cannot possible have one Simmons moment when I have a million lying ahead.