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Apr 21st, 2023

HPU Senior Reyna Alston Refines Her Musical Talents

Reyna Alston entered High Point University with intentions of studying opera and becoming an internationally renowned vocalist. While at HPU, the Durham, North Carolina, native expanded several of her other musical interests she wants to pursue.

As a senior music major with a concentration in vocal performance, she plans to attend graduate school for choral conducting at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She aspires to be a professional conductor and composer, and she’s gained experience to get there.

“I realized early in my college search that HPU would provide endless tools and opportunities to forge my own path,” said Alston. “The Department of Music faculty have an array of knowledge cultivated through research and performance experience with leading conductors, vocalists and instrumentalists around the world. They use an individualized approach to instruction, and I knew attending HPU would sharpen my skills while providing industry connections for future endeavors.”

Personalized Paths Provided by Professors

While each faculty member in the Department of Music had a profound impact on Alston’s musicianship, she found her most significant mentor in her private voice teacher, Dr. Scott MacLeod, an associate professor of voice and director of vocal studies.

Reyna Alston with her mentor Scott MacLeod, an associate professor of voice and director of vocal studies in a private practice session.
Reyna Alston with her mentor Scott MacLeod, an associate professor of voice and director of vocal studies in a private practice session.

“He is a model of hard work and excellence, and always pushes me to be the best performer I can be,” says Alston. “Dr. MacLeod supports my efforts in every area of music and has proven he cares equally about my personal and professional journeys.”

MacLeod says Alston has the skills and drive to make a significant impact on the musical world.

“Reyna’s achievements to date are impressive,” said MacLeod. “She is currently the music director for three diverse ensembles on campus: the Genesis Gospel Choir, the Petal Points acapella female ensemble and the HPU Chapel and Religious Life services. Her duties include creating musical arrangements of various repertoire, conducting and performing in services and concerts. Reyna chose to take on this enormous workload in addition to her academic studies because she recognized the significant experiential growth opportunities available to her. She is thriving in all these assignments and admired by peers and faculty alike for her leadership abilities.”

Reyna Austin gets more comfortable with her role as a vocal performer and conductor on stage.
Reyna Alston gets more comfortable with her role as a vocal performer and conductor on stage.

From Alston’s perspective, HPU’s Music Department gave her an opportunity to take on an enormous workload full of experiential learning and professional opportunities to enhance her skills as a percussionist, pianist, composer and conductor.

“I developed goals of earning a doctoral degree in music and being a professional conductor with my own choir and orchestra to perform my compositions globally,” said Alston. “In academic choirs and bands, we are often treated like young professionals, receiving diverse and challenging repertoire with the expectation that we will learn the music to the best of our abilities. This fun, fast-paced environment prepared me for studies at the graduate level and professional work in the music industry.”

Challenged and Supported to Succeed 

Alston says Handel’s Messiah was her most challenging production because she had not previously studied choral music from the Baroque era or performed solo repertoire accompanied by orchestra.

“It required a lot of independent study and preparation for a successful performance,” she said.

Reyna Alston performs He's Got the Whole World in His Hands at the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel Service. MLK Chapel Service
Reyna Alston performs ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’ at the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel Service.

Last year, Alston wrote and conducted two pieces for the university ensembles, “The Calm & the Storm” for the HPU Wind Ensemble, and a vocal jazz arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer” for the HPU Chamber Singers.

“These are impressive achievements for an undergraduate student, and her professors and advisors were struck by the depth of musicality and sophistication in both pieces,” said MacLeod. “She is currently working on her third composition for the HPU Chamber Singers, which will premiere this spring.”

The Department of Music also provided leadership opportunities in academic and extracurricular settings to help Alston build her self-confidence and her skills as an effective communicator.

“I was able to implement my own projects in a safe environment and receive feedback from peers and faculty,” Alston said. “I am also one of five inaugural Elizabeth Strickland L.I.F.T. (Leading and Inspiring Female Trailblazers) Scholars. Through Dr. Rhonda Butler, I have learned how to navigate leadership challenges specific to women and other minorities. Most importantly, I’ve learned not be afraid of failure, but to be resilient, ambitious and find my motivation for every step in leadership.”