Name: Chris Holman
UH Affiliation: Spring 2016 Alumnus; Master of Music
Abstract: Pipe organs differ in construction, sound, and decoration in every country and throughout history; the one unifying factor is that they reflect the culture of those who built them. Thus, playing these instruments increases cultural awareness in both the player and listener. I intend to further this relationship by playing the diverse historic organs, and examining Renaissance manuscripts on improvisation in and around Basel, Switzerland.
In parallel with the Fulbright application process, Chris elected to apply for the Frank Huntington Beebe Fund for Musicians, which provides financial support to young musicians seeking advanced music training abroad. Although Chris was a semi-finalist in the 2017-2018 Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition, he did not receive the award. However, Chris was notified in May 2017 that he was selected as a 2017-2018 Beebe Scholar. He will spend a year at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland performing on and studying historic organs throughout Europe. Congratulations Chris!!
Why did you apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program?
Since I first started playing organ, I was immediately captivated by the old instruments throughout Europe, especially hearing the music of Bach, Mozart, Buxtehude, etc. played on instruments that they probably knew. Applying for the Fulbright and Beebe grants is the ideal way to fulfill that dream, and having such a strong major grants program at UH really made the application process much more feasible.
What was the most challenging aspect of the Fulbright application process?
Coming up with not only a viable, but competitive project and condensing the idea into two pages proved extremely difficult. Drs. Asmussen and Armstrong from the UH Fulbright team were tremendously helpful, as were several of my professors who knew my area of study well. While the proposal itself was a fairly major ordeal, I’m very grateful to all my UH team of advisors for making it much less so!
What is one interesting thing you learned about yourself when developing your application essays and materials?
Applying for these grants really helped me focus my thoughts about my field and what I’m ultimately doing in music. My project consists of performing and studying historic pipe organs throughout Europe, and over the process of writing the proposal I consciously realized that the organs are not only reflections of the period in which they are built, but of the people themselves — yet, while we all speak different languages and organs vary greatly between region, music is one thing that can unite us all, regardless of our individual backgrounds. As such, my role as an organist is actually a musical ambassador. I believe that making that cultural connection has made my playing more communicative and was a key part of why my proposal was successful.