Senior Emily West is a harpist from Gaston, IN. Emily was one of this year’s Undergraduate Concerto Competition winners and performed Maurice Ravel’s “Introduction & Allegro” with the Ball State Symphony Orchestra this past Spring.

“I started playing the harp my freshman year of high school. My family and I attended a seminar where one of the performing artists was a harpist. Once I was able to see and hear the instrument in person, I knew that there couldn’t be any other instrument I would want to learn!

“My greatest memory at Ball State so far has probably been playing for the Ball State Holiday Choral Concert my freshman year. I had never played anything of that scale before and the amount of time I spent trying to perfect my part really helped me see how much I loved the entire process of learning music. My professor at the time, Elizabeth Richter, spent many hours coaching me and accompanying me on the piano to ensure that I would feel prepared for the part. It was also during this time that she gave me perhaps the greatest advice that I have ever learned in regards to music. After observing how nervous and scared I was for the performance, Ms. Richter just looked at me and told me that “music is not about you…it is about who you are playing for and with.” That piece of advice has stayed with me and has gotten me through many nerve-racking performances.

“I chose Ball State because I loved studying with Ms. Richter! She taught me in high school and so when the time came for me to choose a college, I just knew that I wanted to continue studying with her as long as I could. Even though Ms. Richter has now retired, her legacy within the Ball State Harp Studio is still so vibrant and her successor, Dr. Joanne King, is just as committed to teaching her students how to love and enjoy music. When looking back at my musical experiences thus far, I cannot imagine where I would be without Ms. Richter and the opportunity Ball State provided me with of meeting her and learning from her is a very important reason why I love being a part of the School of Music.”