Choosing a college that offers more than a music conservatory
For most of his college search, Sam Viguerie ’17 was set on going to a music conservatory.
“The more that I looked, the more that I realized the importance of getting a broader education,” Viguerie says. “A week before the decision deadline, I decided that I wanted to go to a school with a diverse array of educational opportunities — like St. Olaf.”
While on the Hill, Viguerie has had ample opportunities not only to hone his exceptional musical talent but also to major in computer science and participate in various student organizations.
Viguerie, who studies cello with Professor of Music David Carter, was the national winner of the 2016 MTNA Young Artist Competition, and he captured top prize at the 2016 Thursday Musical Competition as well as the 2015 Schubert Club Competition.
Viguerie’s performances have been featured on Minnesota Public Radio and National Public Radio. Last summer, he attended the the Centre d’Arts Orford in Quebec and the Heifetz International Music Institute in Staunton, Virginia, where he studied with renowned musicians Richard Aaron, Laurence Lesser, and Amit Peled.
But for Viguerie, “An education spanning subjects beyond music has been an integral part of my development as a cellist and a musician.”
And while Viguerie has certainly proven himself as an individual performer during his time at St. Olaf, he has also become part of an equally excellent music community. He says, “One of the most profound and positive experiences that I’ve had here is being in the St. Olaf Orchestra,” led by Conductor Steven Amundson.
The St. Olaf Orchestra tours nationally every year and has performed throughout Europe, Scandinavia, and China. In the fall of 2015, Viguerie performed as a soloist with the orchestra on its tour to California, Oregon, and Washington.
“In the orchestra, everyone knows each other as a person, not just as a player,” Viguerie says. “There are also dozens of long-lasting traditions within the ensemble — it really adds to our music-making.”
And Viguerie has been able to connect his musical talent with his interest in computer science at St. Olaf. He was part of a team of researchers led by Assistant Professor of Music Louis Epstein who are creating a multi-sensory, interactive digital tool to illustrate the musical geography of 1920s Paris.
Viguerie worked on a High Performance Computer in Context (HiPerCiC) team that developed an interactive GIS to plot the events taking place in this musical scene.
HiPerCiC is an initiative led by Professor of Computer Science Richard Brown that uses web applications to fulfill the computational needs of St. Olaf faculty and students, empowering their research with cutting-edge technology.
Viguerie says that “as developer for that project, I wasn’t dealing directly with the musical data, so it was cool to be on the other side.”
In addition to his connections with the music community and with the computer science community, Viguerie serves as president of the Honor Council.
The honor system at St. Olaf asks students to pledge their honor on examinations that they have neither given nor received assistance not approved by the professor.
“Serving on the Honor Council has been deeply fulfilling,” Viguerie says. “We’re challenged to constantly exercise and improve our critical thinking and moral judgment, ultimately serving as advocates for both the student body and the honor code.”
Music, along with computer science and the Honor Council, have certainly shaped Viguerie’s experience as a St. Olaf student. But at the end of the day, he says, “My favorite part of being an Ole is living on such a tight-knit campus full of intellectually stimulating and warm-hearted individuals.”
Watch Viguerie perform Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 Prelude: