Lauren Zwonik is a DMA student in flute, and after a nationally advertised search, is the recipient of the College of Fine Arts' first Community Internship Graduate Assistantship. Her assignment involves close work with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. This interview originially appeared on the College of Fine Arts website on 12-12-2021.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your educational experience so far at UNLV.
Hello, my name is Lauren Zwonik-Stutz and I am a native of Colchester, Vermont. I pursued my undergraduate degrees in music education, flute performance, and a minor in music business from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, New York. I then moved to West Virginia to pursue my masters in flute performance and a certificate in university teaching. I just moved to Las Vegas this past August to begin my doctorate in flute performance with Dr. John McMurtery.
I never thought I would be living in a desert, but as a new resident of the state it has been a positive and productive learning environment. UNLV certainly holds its standards for pushing its graduate students both academically and in performance events. I have enjoyed the plethora of performing opportunities that the Wind Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra and Nextet Contemporary Ensemble provide to students. Academic conversations with faculty are always present, especially as I am starting to narrow my dissertation topic. More to follow, but I am interested in research pertaining to the impact of flute music during Nazi Germany in concentration camps.
Outside performing and teaching I enjoy spending time reading, going on nature walks, and camping with my husband.
How did you first hear of the Community Internship Graduate Assistantship, and what made you decide to apply?
It's quite an interesting story of how I first heard about the CIGA! Back in March I was finishing up doctoral auditions and a flute colleague reached out with a link to a new assistantship offered at UNLV. This piqued my interest, and I applied to the internship while emailing the College of Music and Dr. McMurtery to set up a prospective lesson. A 2 1/2 hour lesson later, meetings with the dean's office, later contacted for an audition and interview, then in April was accepted into the DMA program and offered the Las Vegas Philharmonic Internship.
I am incredibly grateful to my colleague for forwarding me the information. I would not be here today talking with you if it wasn't for her kind gesture.
What are your duties with the Las Vegas Philharmonic?
My Graduate Assistantship falls under the umbrella of "arts administration." This job field includes but is not limited: to daily and event operations, personnel management, fundraising, press releasing, marketing, education development, and music librarian.
My duties at the Philharmonic range from each category above. This semester I started learning about the music library and the process of selecting programs to how the music ends up on the performance stage. I also have been working on a database to look at programming trends, hopefully to point the Philharmonic in a more diverse and accessible future. This upcoming semester I will be working on education development in the Clark County School District, while creating agendas for our artist and composer in Las Vegas residencies.
What has your overall experience been like so far?
My background has been mainly in education and performing, so working in arts administration is a completely different work environment. I think that the feeling of being "uncomfortable but curious" is a great place for me to thrive and learn. There are moments where I don't know the basics to the job or policies, but then there are others where I am able to share my knowledge of children's classrooms or stage management that is of value to the team. It has been an incredibly supportive and kind environment where I am able to ask questions, say "I don't know but I want to learn" and hopefully make an impact on the audiences.
What are your plans following graduation?
My current career aspiration is to teach at the collegiate level, however I adore teaching privately. I think the happy and healthy ideal is to find a balance between teaching the next generation of musicians, performing in a chamber group or regional ensemble, and doing research.