Sophie Engels has been a prominent figure in many areas across the Department of Music and Dance here at Swarthmore, from performing in orchestra and chorus to reestablishing community engagement programs paused during COVID-19. Engels will be leaving Swarthmore with a degree in applied math and a minor in music and hopes to leave behind a legacy of serving the community through music.
Engels began studying piano at age seven and took orchestra in middle school to learn the violin. In high school she joined choir and became interested in continuing her music education in her undergraduate studies. When she first arrived at Swarthmore she joined the orchestra as a violinist. Then in her second semester she joined Garnet Singers and Swarthmore College Chorus. Shortly thereafter, COVID-19 changed the way music ensembles worked, requiring virtual rehearsals and performances. Once on-campus activities resumed, Engels was hired as a choir accompanist. Thanks to her time spent with groups like the Garnet Singers, this position worked wonderfully for her.
Engels and violinist Sara Yun’ 23 formed a chamber group in the spring of sophomore year with Engels on piano. Prior to COVID-19, small groups of Swattie musicians would visit and perform at places like hospitals and nursing homes. This gave Engels an idea for the special project requirement for her Music minor. Engels organized and played a performance at Plush Mills, an independent living retirement facility in Wallingford, PA last semester. She hopes to “lay down some roots in places in the community” where students can “play for people that really appreciate it.” Her aim is to create more opportunities for music students to perform off-campus in a low-stakes environment, while leaving a lasting impact on the community. This semester she is trying to expand and perform at more locations in an attempt to make this project function like the program that existed before COVID-19. She would like the work she’s started to continue after she’s gone.
Post-Swarthmore, Engels plans to either study operations research at the University of Edinburgh or computational science at the University of Amsterdam. She intends to join a choir and to keep playing for fun. “What I would really love is to be able to do chamber music,” she says.
Favorite Music course at Swarthmore? 17th and 18th Century Music with Professor Blasina or Medievalism in Music and Media.
Fondest memory in the Music program? Juice break during orchestra rehearsals.
What will you miss most about Swarthmore? The people.
What artist/song have you listened to recently that stood out to you? This year over summer: group Sammy Rae and the Friends, [it’s] like a retro pop group.
What’s your favorite performance you’ve ever seen? Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Interpreti Veneziani with period instruments at a church in Venice. I was there with my family and grandparents, and it was a spontaneous decision to go. I was so glad we did!