Marie here again! This time, I sat down at the Chocolate Bar with Gloria Kostadinova, our only lady graduating this year. Her angelic voice will be sorely missed in the soprano section–read on to find out more!
MP: So you started with Mads your freshman year?
GK: Yeah, I’ve been in since the beginning! I mean, I’ve always been involved in singing—in high school, and I guess in middle school as well. But you know middle school choir… My little sister is in chorale now, with the same teacher.
MP: So how many siblings do you have? Why have I never asked you these questions??
GK: Well, now’s the perfect time! [laughs] I have two little sisters—one of them is going on 13, she’s the one taking choir, and the other one just turned 11. A lot younger than me…
MP: So did your high school have madrigals?
GK: No, unfortunately! My high school, their music program was not as developed as other school districts, I’d say. In recent years, they’ve gotten a lot better. My music teacher was like an unfulfilled rock star, wanted us to do a rock band. So I did chorale and show choir, which was a smaller group, more jazzy, like the Beatles but more modern versions. Actually, I think it was my sophomore or junior year, I became involved with BOP, which stands for Brown Opera Productions, at Brown University. My dad, he’s part time faculty at Brown Medical School, and he gets a lot of newsletters and things, and he came home one day and was like “Hey! I got this email from one of the groups, I think you’ll really enjoy this, you should totally try out!” I wasn’t sure if I could try out, because I wasn’t a Brown student, but I tried out, and I ended up getting a chorus part in their production of L’elisir d’amore, which is an Italian opera, and I loved it! It was acting and singing, and that’s kind of where my classical flairs started. And that’s where Mads comes in, because BC doesn’t have an opera program really—they have that thing that Josh was talking about—
MP: That we’ve never heard of… It’s not a big thing.
GK: So Mads was the closest to opera, and I tried out freshman year…. I auditioned with O mio babbino caro. So yeah, that’s where I started!
MP: Awesome! So were you also on that fateful New York trip?
GK: No, I wasn’t, actually! So whenever people make references to it I just sort of go oh… that stinks? I don’t remember the reason I didn’t go, I must have had some other school engagement or something… It was definitely an epic trip that won’t be forgotten…
MP: No, because they won’t stop talking about it! Anything goes wrong and they go “Oh, New York again.”
So you joined freshman year—do you have a favorite madrigal occurrence?
GK: I remember when we did our first CD recording—when Kayleigh and Rob were still in charge—we did it on Brighton Campus, I don’t remember what the space is called—the creepy big house on the hill…
MP: The Cardinal’s Residence?
GK: Yes! We were there, and I remember it was the longest recording session ever…. It was my first, but it was still the longest, and I remember, I had gotten laryngitis in the middle of recording, and it was just a struggle…
MP: [ruefully] I know how that feels…
GK: Yeah, exactly! Just like that last time… It was a really cool space because it was a little more homey than the church we were in last time, and there’s a picture of us on Facebook, we’re all laying on the floor sleeping, sleeping bag style, and everyone just looked so dead, miserable, but it was fun. It was a really great bonding experience, struggling through physical hardships and creating something. That’s a moment that sticks out in my mind, for sure.
MP: That’s great. What about a favorite song?
GK: I really enjoyed when Katie Weintraub was here—we did these songs in Russian—Bogoroditse Djevo. I liked those because they were really different but still madrigal-sounding, they were really fun. I guess it’s cool to do more “ethnic-sounding” pieces, but I don’t know how ethnic madrigals can get…
MP: I think the most ethnic madrigals can get is Russian….
GK: Maybe you can throw in some for next year, when you’re thinking of your repertoire…
MP: We’ll see! I’m nervous…
GK: You’ll be fine! Mads has been around for how long now? 6 years? I think it’s incredible—just in comparison to all the other a cappella groups—it’s something that drew me to Mads as well. Mads has such an interesting dynamic, as all a cappella groups arguably have their own unique thing, but mads even more so—you can’t judge a book by it’s cover! I think that’s the quote I would use for mads—maybe freshman year, at the beginning of the semester, I maybe judged the book a little too harshly…
MP: What do you mean?
GK: I don’t know… I was influenced by comparing Mads to other a cappella groups. You know, being a freshman, being new to college and everything, you’re a little more insecure and self-conscious of things than you probably should be. I also was dating someone who was in another a cappella group, who was super into all the traditions and all the other things that the other a cappella groups on campus stand for, and I was self-conscious. I remember thinking, oh, I wish I had that connection with Mads. But I think my friendships and connections with Mads have definitely grown over the years, and it’s a steady process. Just like more natural friendships do form, you know? You’re not going to be best friends from the first moment you meet these people. It takes time getting to know the quirks and idiosyncrasies of everyone!
MP: For sure! Goodness knows we’ve got plenty of idiosyncrasies!
GK: Absolutely! And I think those are beautiful things that take time to appreciate, and for people to open up to you, and I’ve come to really love everyone for those things. Now, upon graduation, I can say that people in Mads were some of my best friends and some of the greatest people I’ve met here at BC. May not have been eager to say that the first moment I entered, but I said it took time, and it was definitely worth it!
MP: So was there any one moment, beyond the recording session at the Cardinal’s Residence, that you felt the group click?
GK: Hmmm… I don’t know. I don’t know if I can pinpoint one moment, but there are instances in rehearsals that I’ll just be a little more meditative, and reserved, and just observe everyone and just really appreciate everyone and what they do—In a non-creepy way! I’ll stare at Jon conducting, you know, Louie singing, or someone learning music together, asking questions, and those are the moments when I think, I’m a part of this amazing group. These are really talented people, and I’m part of their group! I can’t give you a specific moment, but it’s moments like that when you just observe anyone putting out their talent for everyone to see that are just great.
MP: This is a little bit redundant, but do you have a favorite thing about Mads? Not necessarily a moment or a person or a song, but just in general… What makes this group so special, do you think?
GK: I think that Mads is unique in the sense that we really are all about the music. Of course we have fun, and we have our social gatherings, and our bonding, but our rehearsals are the most productive when we are focused, when we’re learning our music and we’re dedicated to the piece that we’re working on in that present moment. Yeah, we have silly moments, when people are feeling tired and not focused at all, but I think that’s what sets us apart, that everyone is involved in so many different things. We have such different lives and different social groups and different paths but our passion and dedication to this music is what brings us together. And I think that almost reflects what BC is like—BC has so many different kinds of people, you know, you have your conservative students, you have your liberal students, but they’re really well rounded. And I think that people in Mads are really well-rounded individuals. In every sense of the word! [laughs]
MP: That’s awesome! So do you have any advice for future madri-gals or madri-guys?
GK: I would have to say… Don’t let those initial judgments deter you from immersing yourself in the group and jumping in. Yes, we wear silly costumes, but those are what make Mads so fun. Don’t take yourself as seriously, even though we take our music seriously. I think those moments, those silly things, the fun in the costumes, that’s what brings joy and levity to Mads, and I would say just embrace that. Embrace all those qualities in Mads and make beautiful music!
MP: Are you going to continue singing madrigals in the future?
GK: No, no… [laughs]
MP: Are you going to continue singing in the future?
GK: Yeah. I really want to! For everyone who has this talent—I recently watched this documentary called 20 Feet from Stardom
MP: Oooh, the one about the backup singers! Didn’t that win an Oscar?
GK: I’m not sure, but if you haven’t watched it, you totally should. It is so moving, and grounding, and insightful, as a singer, as someone who has considered music as a profession…. It’s something that the documentary said: not everyone is a singer. Sometimes you think, everyone has a voice, but not everyone has that talent that for whatever reason you were born with. And it’s almost your duty, your calling to share it.
MP: Speaking of professions… Do you know what you’re doing after graduation?
GK: Well, I’m not sure. I’m going to be, at least for the summer, at home in Rhode Island, finishing my paid internship. But my next destination is probably going to be Washington, D.C. It’s a great city, and I’ve visited so many times, but haven’t had the chance to live there. And that’s where my non-profits, policy work—that’s the center of it all! So, we’ll go from there!
MP: Thanks so much, Gloria!