Rachel Grider found guidance and mentoring as a CSU Stanislaus student and has since built a successful career both in academics and in the professional world. Grider, who is blind, has also continued to grow as a performer, and she’ll return to campus March 14 to perform a recital of 19th-century Russian songs and arias in the Bernell and Flora Snider Music Recital Hall.
“Even when I am faced with challenges, I can find new opportunities to grow and learn,” she said. “I feel quite accomplished now that the faculty who gave me my first serious music education consider me a professional and have invited me back to give a vocal recital.”
Grider said her journey as a student has been especially rewarding. She graduated from CSU Stanislaus in 2011 with bachelor’s degrees in vocal performance and composition, and then completed master’s degrees in voice performance and music theory pedagogy at the prestigious Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
A Modesto native, Grider attended the CSU Stanislaus Summer Music Camp during each of her four years at Downey High School. During that time, she established strong relationships with the university’s music faculty, which influenced her decision to attend CSU Stanislaus.
As an undergraduate student, Grider recalls being young and naïve. Her faculty mentors were always available to give advice and encouragement, she said, which fostered much of her growth. They saw her potential and challenged her to excel, which also gave her the confidence she needed to succeed in graduate school.
“I feel that I have always been particularly fortunate to have encouraging professors, especially at CSU Stanislaus,” Grider said. “I grew a lot here, both as a musician and in my independence.”
Grider’s love for Russian music began in the sixth grade, when she used some extra Christmas money to buy an album of Rachmaninoff piano concertos and was instantly moved by the music. That passion developed further during an undergraduate course in vocal literature at CSU Stanislaus, and her recital will feature some of those first songs that inspired her love for the rarely performed repertoire.
“I think if more people knew about these works, more people would sing them,” said Grider. “These songs have a lot of beautiful text painting. Even though the lyrics are in Russian, you can hear what’s happening in the music — the burning of a letter or the sound of a waterfall.”
With her master’s degrees now complete, Grider plans to pursue a doctorate in music theory, composition or voice. She would ultimately like to teach at the college level, and she is also interested in participating in a Fulbright Scholar program in Russia.