Penelope Hough ’17 has been a member of the RhapsoDs, Deerfield’s all-girls a cappella group, since her freshman year. However, her musical involvement goes far beyond her life here in Massachusetts. In Hough’s hometown of Washington, D.C., she sang with the Young Artists of America, a competitive opera performance group that allows students to work with leading professional artists. Hough also attended the Brevard Music Center’s voice program, a prestigious music camp known for its selectivity and opera division. These experiences, coupled with her nearly four years on DA’s a capella group, have made singing an immense passion of Hough’s. “Making the RhapsoDs as a freshman was really exciting for me, and it’s been a huge privilege to have that be such a big part of my Deerfield experience for the past four years,” she said. Also at Deerfield, Hough sang in the Western Massachusetts district festival the past two years, an experience she described as “rewarding and fun.”
Hough’s grandmother, a professional soprano, music director, choir and opera director, and voice teacher, sparked Hough’s passion for music. “She saw my interest in singing and strongly encouraged my parents to put me into church choir, which I started when I was about 6,” she explained. Hough then went on to participate in her school and church choirs throughout middle school, all while receiving voice lessons from her grandmother. “That was when I got serious about classical singing,” reflected Hough when describing these initial voice lessons. Hough said that though her grandmother played a large role in her singing career, she was inspired by others as well. Artists ranging from Joyce DiDonato and Monteserrat Caballé to Mumford and Sons have all inspired and influenced Hough.
As her talent has grown, her education in the field of music has increased greatly as well. “DA has taught me a lot about music on the theory side of things. I now know a lot more about composing and arranging music,” she said. This knowledge helped her with analyzing symphonies while at the Brevard.
Hough plans on continuing this musical education in college as a voice major at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music, where she will begin this fall. “It’s the dream because I’ll get to sing everyday with people who’ve either had amazing careers or are on their ways to one,” she said. Beyond her future four years at Northwestern, Hough wants to attend graduate school for music, and then see if she can pursue singing as her career. “If I can’t, it’s fine. That’s the nature of being an artist. But I want to reach the peak that my voice can offer me and enjoy singing for my whole life,” remarked Hough.
Her positive attitude stems from her love of all aspects of music. “The best part of music is seeing how it affects people,” she added. “As I learned from my grandmother, music touches lives, and if you do it for yourself, you might as well be singing in a closet.”
Hoping to touch some of our lives, Hough encourages the entire school community to be in attendance at her senior recital on April 15th in the Hess concert hall, which will feature a wide range of solo pieces from different eras of classical music.