Kate Henry’s forthcoming master’s degree in flute performance will be the culmination of a seven-year journey at Eastern Illinois University, a trek upon which she has formed a close relationship with music faculty member Rebecca Johnson. Such student/teacher bonds are a hallmark of an EIU education, but this one has a unique characteristic that makes it particularly special.
“Dr. Johnson and I started here at Eastern together when I was an undergrad seven years ago,” said Henry, who performed her graduate student recital on March 1. “We’ve been able to develop almost as a team. For those seven years, our relationship has been able to develop and continue.
“It was because of her musicianship and artistry that I wanted to stay here and continue studying under here. I think she has really helped me grow into who I am as a person, as a musician, and as an artist. That’s a really fantastic thing she’s been able to do for me.”
The bonds they built during their early days in Charleston were a heavy influence on Henry’s decision to continue studying at the university after she earned her undergraduate degree.
“I aspire to be similar to her as an artist and musician because she’s a very active performer as well as teacher and educator,” said Henry. “The reason I wanted to stay and continue to work with her was because we had already developed a relationship.”
When Henry finishes up at Eastern, her plan is to enter the field of performing arts administration; her dream is to serve as president or CEO of a major symphony orchestra.
“Help oversee and organize all their touring events, their fundraising, marketing, all of their orchestra personnel,” said Henry, outlining the duties of such a position. “I really love going into the managerial and organizational aspect of music, and that’s how I plan to apply my degree from Eastern.”
Even if that career path works out for Henry, her first love will always be the actual playing of music.
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing,” said Henry, whose first music lesson was in third grade. “I love it too much. I could never see myself not playing. It’s something that makes me genuinely happy.
“When I play, it’s a passion. It’s a feeling you almost can’t describe sometimes, because it’s different for everyone. For me, it’s this excitement and this bubbly giddiness that happens when I perform. That’s what music is all about, I think. It’s the experience that each performer gets to have when they’re onstage or even when they’re practicing. For me, it’s an overwhelming happiness I get when I’m onstage or when I’m playing my instrument.”
EIU has certainly played a key role in Henry’s continued passion for music.
“One thing I’ve really enjoyed about being at Eastern is our faculty and our directors,” said Henry. “We also have a lot of touring artists and performers that come in from all over the country and internationally.
“Most of the time, we get the opportunity to be able to perform with them and perform our master classes with them. Sometimes some of the ensembles get to collaborate with them. I think that’s a really unique opportunity we get to have at Eastern.”