The music world is very competitive, so it’s important college students not only have an excellent music education, but also an environment where they can be known. They deserve a place that is supportive and caring, with one-on-one mentoring from faculty, while preparing for their vocation, says Dr. Lori Guy, assistant professor of music. That’s what she and her colleagues have created in the Alabama School of the Arts at the University of Mobile. Guy believes, “We have been created on purpose and for a purpose.” That’s a good fit for a professor at a Christian university that offers “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose.”
We talked with Guy about her passions, from church planting and discipling young women to bringing the poetry of a Holocaust survivor to audiences through performances of “Farewell Auschwitz.”
Q: What courses do you typically teach?
A: I teach undergraduate and graduate applied voice, graduate music history and research, and I associate direct some of the musicals. I honestly enjoy all of my classes, but I especially love my time in the studio with singers. I love helping students find their natural voice and empowering them as performers.
Q: You have taught at UM for 6 years. What is your background?
A: My undergraduate degree is from the University of Indianapolis and my master’s and doctorate is from The University of Southern Mississippi. My degrees were in voice performance and pedagogy, and with those degrees I have gotten to sing roles in operas and musicals. I love being a flexible singer and teacher, so navigating belt voice and a classical aria in the same day is normal for me!
Q: Tell us how you became interested in poetry and music inspired by the Holocaust.
A: For my dissertation, I studied Krystyna Żywulska who was a Polish Jew who survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. While in the camp, she wrote beautiful poems that were extremely popular among the prisoners. The poems survived and a modern composer, Jake Heggie, set them to music in a work called “Farewell, Auschwitz.” My dissertation focused on analyzing the poetry and the music of “Farewell, Auschwitz.” Since my dissertation’s publishing, I have collaborated with colleagues and friends to perform “Farewell Auschwtiz” to audiences in Mississippi and Alabama.
Q: What does “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose” mean to you?
A: We have been created on purpose and for a purpose. I believe that purpose is to fulfill Jesus’ command when he says in Matthew to “go and make disciples.” How we live out this purpose looks differently depending on where we end up working and where we have the opportunity to serve others with excellence. I believe we train our students to be excellent at their vocation so they can spend a lifetime serving others and discipling well in whatever field they go into!
Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of teaching at UM?
A: I love spending time with my husband and son (especially outdoors – we love a good walk, and if you are in Chickasaw, Alabama, in the evenings, you will probably see the three of us and our red wagon). I love to read – all genres! I am an introvert who likes to recharge with a good fiction book. My husband and I are church planters, so that takes a lot of our time right now, but we are loving it and thankful for the opportunity.
Q: You are passionate about discipleship. Tell us about it.
A: One of my favorite things is that I get to co-lead a college/young adult women’s Bible study. As we were launching it and having a lot of conversations, I began researching discipleship and became really passionate about it. It became really important to create a safe space on Sunday afternoons to help college and young professional women wade through the tough questions they have about God and life. I have become more aware this past year that we are going to (intentionally or not) disciple people to something, and being mindful of that has shaped my focus on intentional discipleship.
*Photo: Dr. Lori Guy performs in Mississippi Opera’s production of “Carmen.”