Coming into Swarthmore, Andrew Karpenko ’24 was certain that he wanted to have a college experience immersed in music. “I knew I wanted to do music,” he recalls, “I’d been a musician for a long time.” A passionate and driven performer, Andrew’s decision to attend Swarthmore was partially due to the various opportunities the music department could provide to him. However, majoring in music was something that he hadn’t intended.
Throughout middle and high school, Andrew played the oboe for his schools’ symphony orchestras. “I had plenty of experience playing as a performer,” Andrew notes, “but I hadn’t really gotten to experience the academic side of music yet.” When he arrived at Swarthmore, he decided to take Music 11 and Music 40 to learn more about the theory behind his performances. “For me, this was a nice place to start,” Andrew says, “it helped enrich my understanding a lot.”
As a Pre-Med student, Andrew had to take specific classes to fulfill requirements for medical school post-graduation. “The music classes were a nice change of pace to do something that interested me amidst all my science classes.”
Andrew performed in the Orchestra his freshman fall, but due to COVID-19, the ensemble had to meet virtually. Music helped balance out his schedule as a college student, giving him a more fulfilling and diverse experience that semester. “Music is something that interests me a lot,” Andrew says, “it’s a life skill that never leaves you if you’re willing to give it energy.” Wanting to keep this passion in his life was part of the reason he decided to pursue it as one of his majors.
“It was an area I knew I could pour my soul into and not get tired of,” he says with a smile, “and it’s just something enjoyable that I can do as a college student.” Andrew’s decision was also driven by how much he liked the classes he took and the professors he studied with.
“I just really fell in love with the music classes, and the professors were amazing.” He appreciates Swarthmore’s Orchestra director, Professor Andrew Hauze ʼ04, who teaches Music 40 and Musicianship classes, and has been a part of his journey from the beginning.
Due to the difficulty and competitiveness of medical school applications, having a music major helps Andrew stand out as an applicant with unique skill sets and experiences. “I was recommended the music major because it’s different,” he says, “you can definitely imagine it being uncommon among biology and chemistry majors.”
Andrew specializes in the performance aspect of music, focusing on classical music. He has been active in Orchestra at Swarthmore and has performed a variety of pieces in his time at the college. He played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D with David Kim from the Philadelphia Orchestra, a memory that he remembers fondly. “It was a wild experience being able to play with someone of that talent,” he says, “and just being part of an orchestra that’s able to keep up was amazing.” Outside of performance, Andrew is also well-versed in music theory, history, and musicology. “I really appreciate how Swarthmore’s music department takes such a holistic approach to the music major,” he says. “When you’re focused on only the performance aspect you can miss things that are important to music.”
After graduation, Andrew hopes to go into the healthcare profession. “I might be able to use music in some application of music therapy,” he muses, “but honestly I don’t really see it tying in with my profession.” For Andrew, music is an interest that could help him build bridges within his community and enrich his life. He looks forward to being involved in community groups and orchestras, hoping his greater knowledge of music will open doors to talking to people from all avenues of life.
“What I want to emphasize is that you can take a lot of music classes here and even be a music major without planning on a music profession,” he says. “It’s just a really fun experience.”
Andrew will be performing in the Orchestra concert on December 08, 2023, playing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the Lang Concert Hall. He will also be involved with the senior recitals performed by other music majors this year.
Favorite Music Class: Conducting and Orchestration
Favorite Music Experience: Playing with David Kim in Orchestra (Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major)
What I'll Miss Most: Being around all of the amazing people I've met here every day.
Sound I Love: Anything played by an electric guitar
Sound I Hate: My alarm
Last Song I Played: Misery Business by Paramore