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Jenna Takach ’24

In the words of Jenna Takach ’24, “the music program is a family for every student, whether they’re majors, minors or neither. It’s been such an integral part of my time at Swarthmore and I would encourage everyone to take a music class or go to a concert.” Initially intending to focus her studies on Psychology, the welcoming Swarthmore music family set Takach on an unexpected but welcome trajectory; this spring, she will be graduating with not only a major in Psychology, but also a double minor in Music and Dance. 

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Takach spent most of her childhood singing in the children’s chorus. “I was mostly just a choir kid; that was the extent of musical experience that I had,” she recounts. A dancer as well as a singer, Takach planned to keep music and dance in her life as extracurriculars throughout college, with no intention to major or minor in either discipline. 

Upon her arrival at Swarthmore as a QuestBridge Scholar, it quickly became apparent to Takach that music would be far from just a peripheral activity. Transitioning seamlessly from the children’s choir to both the Swarthmore Chorus and Garnet Singers, Takach encountered a range of musicians who altered the course of her college journey. “It was in Chorus that I met some really fantastic people . . . one of them – [Hannah Sobel ’22] – convinced me to take Music 11 and 12 [Harmony, Counterpoint and Form I and II] and everything evolved from there.” 

Soon, Takach’s musical activities began to extend far beyond choral singing. As a sophomore, she was cast in Hannah Sobel’s original operatic production, Speed Dating – this was “a great way to sing in the concert hall for the first time and get to know other people.” 

Sobel’s work as a student conductor in Chorus inspired Takach to follow in their footsteps. In the spring of her sophomore year, Takach began an independent study in choral conducting with then Choral Director Joseph Gregorio. “I approached conducting with the thought that it would be a cool thing to have in my wheelhouse, but as I started taking lessons, I just totally fell in love with it,” she reflects, describing conducting as “the perfect mix of music and movement.” At the end of her junior year, Takach debuted as a conductor for the Garnet Singers, and last fall, she conducted the Swarthmore Chorus under the guidance of current Choral Director Nathan Reiff. 

Among all her new musical pursuits, singing has continued to feature prominently in Takach’s college experience. Last fall, as part of the Fetter Chamber Music Program, she played the role of ‘Susanna’ in a semi-staged production of the second act finale of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. “Fetter was incredible,” she remarked. “Coming to Swarthmore with mostly just a choir background, I never saw myself singing a solo opera role. Even in a 15-minute scene like that, it was amazing.”

Takach’s musical journey has not been confined to Swarthmore’s campus. During a semester abroad to study Psychology in England, she experienced music and dance across the Atlantic. Guided by a list of choirs to audition for, courtesy of Professor Andrew Hauze ’04, Takach performed Handel’s Messiah with the Philharmonia Chorus at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She then had the opportunity to return to Europe through a Swarthmore-sponsored off-campus education program in England and France, a component of Professor Blasina’s course, ‘Contesting Darkness: Music, Sound, and Place in Gothic Europe.’ This time around, Takach experienced England in a more musical way than on her previous trip, with visits to places such as Canterbury Cathedral and a manuscript library in Cambridge. She appreciated how the music program made the trip accessible for all: “There was a whole variety of people in the class and we were all able to do the same things, regardless of our background.” 

Currently, Takach is utilizing the Tri-College Consortium to broaden her musical experience by taking a class at Haverford College on ‘Strange Music: Monsters, Ghosts and Aliens on Stage and Screen.’ “When I saw this class, it reminded me a lot of Andrew [Hauze]’s silent film concerts from the past two years. I thought it sounded really cool, and it had been on my bucket list to take a Tri-Co class.”

As she prepares for life beyond Swarthmore, Takach is making the most of her remaining time in the music program. In addition to her final semester as Soprano Section Leader of the Chorus and Garnet Singers, she will conduct pieces in both ensembles for their concert in April. She will also perform in a Fetter chamber music duet with percussionist Spencer Kenndy ’27. “The music we’re doing is not quite atonal but it’s tricky! I’m not used to the percussiveness of the vibraphone and marimba sound, so it’s been fun to adjust and play around with that.”

Looking ahead, Takach plans to work in the realm of music education and high school choir directing. Having attended a week-long music therapy workshop at New York University last summer, she hopes to eventually explore this intersection between music and psychology further. Music will continue featuring prominently in her life; “I’ll definitely join a chorus or something else musical and keep making music,” Takach affirmed, sharing words of wisdom from former Professor Gregorio: “No matter what you do, keep singing.”


Favorite music course at Swarthmore: ‘Zombie Art: Why Opera Will Never Die’ with Professor Barbara Milewski — this was one of the only classes that kept me engaged over Zoom in my first year. 

Favorite music making experience at Swarthmore: Playing Susanna in the Fetter production of The Marriage of Figaro. 

What will you miss most about Swarthmore: Walking into the [Lang Music Building] and seeing at least one person I know there every single day, invading my professors’ offices, and all the connections I’ve made in the music program.

What sound or noise do you love: Laughter.

What sound or noise do you hate: Chewing.

What’s the last song you played on your phone: “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell — come see the Chorus concert in April!