Meet CMP Senior Elise Stoffer
Senior shows and readings have been filling the O’Shaughnessy Performance Space nearly every night for the past few weeks, but one musician’s show will not be taking place there. Instead, graduating Contemporary Music Program major Elise Stoffer will be holding her senior recital in the atrium just outside O’Shaughnessy. “Because I like the acoustics in there,” Stoffer says. “So they were like ‘Yeah, whatever, we’ll figure it out! We’ll make it work!’ and I was like ‘Perfect!’” They being the CMP faculty here at SFUAD, well known for making sure their students get what they need for their performances. “You’re not limited here…I’ve never been told no, I can’t do something.”
Since first grade, Stoffer has known that music is what she wanted to do. The Phantom of the Opera introduced her to the possibility of making and performing music. “My choir teacher, Mr. Hilton…had the soundtrack and just basically explained everything that was happening while we were listening to it,” she says. “I was like ‘That’s a thing? That’s what I’m going to do!’” Opera has remained a firm love in Stoffer’s life, but it’s not alone. Give her jazz, pop, musical theater, pretty much anything except country music and she can run with it. The freedom to explore the different genres of music is one of the benefits of studying here at SFUAD. “SFUAD is one of those places where they kind of let you do your own thing,” she says. “It can be good as long as you have that drive and you’re productive enough to do more with it.” She’s even joined the Balkan music group in the Contemporary Music Program this semester. “I’m trying to get all of it in,” she says with a laugh.
The performing aspect of being a musician, the part that usually brings forward images of quaking knees and dry mouth, is actually a place of solace for Stoffer. “It kind of turns off the real world and you kind of can morph into whatever character you’re trying to be…The nerves always happen for me right before I perform and then right when I start it goes away – it’s the weirdest thing.” She says that the performing is her favorite part of the music. “It’s a lot of fun, it’s actually less stressful than everything else. Which is really funny because a lot of people get stressed out but it takes my stress away.”
After graduation, Stoffer is heading west to Arizona to get her graduate degrees in opera and musical theater from the Herberger School of Music at Arizona State University. Beyond that, Stoffer just wants to have the freedom to perform whatever she can. “I’d love to be able to go out and sing…in a jazz show one night at a bar and then be able to go do an opera and then be in a musical,” she says. “And I also love teaching so I want to be able to…teach private lessons and have students…It’s cool to see yourself grow but it’s awesome to be a reason for someone else growing, so I want to have both sides of that.”
Stoffer’s senior recital is at 7 p.m., April 24.