UC sets CCM student on the road to success
Vincenzo Volpe who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, says his dream of attending UC’s College-Conservatory of Music would not have been possible without the scholarships that UC donors so generously support.
“Because of the process at UC and CCM, you typically get your admissions notification a month before you know what your financial aid package is,” Volpe says. “On April 1, 2019, I was driving back from a lesson when I got the email that said, ‘Congratulations! You are the recipient of a full tuition scholarship.’ I started crying because I was so grateful and happy. That scholarship meant I could continue my education without the financial stress I was feeling between my audition and decision day.”
And now, he could not be better prepared to meet whatever the future holds.
“CCM is a world-class institution, one of the top conservatories in the United States,” says Vincenzo, who in 2022 became the inaugural winner of CCM’s William Winstead Competition for Artistry in Wind Playing. “Part of what makes CCM so special is our faculty. I currently study with Demarre McGill, the principal flutist with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and one of the best flutists in the world.”
At the same time, Vincenzo says, the quality of CCM’s students, who have come from more than 30 countries, makes the caliber of CCM’s orchestras, bands and smaller ensembles “astronomically high.”
What makes UC different
The scholarship aid from UC donors did more than just enable Vincenzo to continue his artistic development without having to work one or more jobs to get by. It placed him in a kind of rarefied niche by matching him with McGill, one of the very few Black professional flutists in America. “UC is one of the few conservatories in the country that is really trying to diversify its faculty and bring in professionals who belong to identities and communities that for a very long time have been ignored within our industry,” Vincenzo says.
UC has also embraced Vincenzo’s artistic creativity and influence within the LGBTQ+ community. As an openly gay man, he has conducted historical research on composers and musicians who were part of the LGBTQ+ community. And as an advocate for gender equity, he has celebrated greater awareness and understanding of less well-known composers through the selection of musical works for his recitals.
“My first recital featured all-female composers,” Vincenzo says. “The second featured LGBTQ+ identities and other composers whose work is less frequently performed. And my lecture recital will be a performance of works that were composed during the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s.”
Vincenzo’s ability to connect these dots of history in an academic setting is not something he takes for granted. “It’s the norm at UC, whereas in other parts of the country, it is not,” he says. “We still have much work to do to obtain the same rights and same quality of life as those who aren’t us.”
Looking ahead, Vincenzo will audition in October for positions with two of the professional military bands in Washington, D.C. Longer term, he aspires to teach at a university and perform with a major symphony orchestra. And thanks to CCM donors, Vincenzo may well be the one who fills one of those highly sought-after positions. “I’m dreaming big,” he says, “and we’ll see what happens.”
Featured image at top: CCM exterior. Photo/provided.