Faculty Story: Chérie Hughes
I teach vocal pedagogy, sacred vocal repertoire, German and French diction for singers, song literature, opera workshop, and beginning voice classes, as well as private studio voice lessons.
I was born in Montreal, Canada, and spent my early childhood there. My father taught botany at McGill University, and my mother was the assistant organist at the St. Joseph Oratory, a Catholic shrine on top of Mount Royal. My parents wanted to expose my sister and me to as much of the French culture as they could, and though they didn't speak a word, they moved to an all-French speaking neighborhood. Having that exposure sparked my love of foreign languages and travel, and has been an invaluable tool for me as a classical singer.
Music was always a part of my life, but when I was 10 years old I began taking violin lessons with a wonderful violinist. She was an amazing performer, and had a career that involved international travel, a variety of musical performance settings (chamber music, orchestral, solo), and university teaching. I was inspired by her artistry and the variety in her career; and it seemed like the perfect fit for my many interests. I chose to attend Colgate University, where she taught, and it was a decision that transformed my life. She has continued to be a mentor to me: as an artist, a colleague, and a friend.
My mother has also been an inspiration to me for how a musician can combine career, family, and faith. She was a professional organist and classical singer, and as soon as I could read music I was turning pages for her during concerts. My mother considered music as an act of devotion to God and those around her. She felt that as musicians we are given a gift to change lives and be a witness to our faith. She also understood that the life of a musician involves struggle in addition to joy and fulfillment. Her reliance on faith and her belief in the transformative power of music made her an inspiration to me and to many others.
I have felt music to be a spiritual calling. For me, it is an act of divine devotion and to be a musician is to be a person of faith. During my time at SPU, I have been very inspired by my colleagues and their dedication to teaching students as "whole musicians" ― mind, body, and spirit. It has deepened my own faith and helped to inspire my own teaching. It has been a real privilege to work with such a dedicated and talented group of colleagues. Their examples of artistry and dedication continue to inspire my own teaching.
Read about the Sprezzatura Trio, an alumni-formed music group.
Student Eric Johnson shares about his experience in the Music Department.