A Door Closes and God Opens a Window

August 01, 2004 | Tara Jeske

Senior music education major Jeremy Irland won the gold medal for voice in the Young Artist’s Competition at the 59th annual Musicfest Northwest in May. It was Irland's second year performing at the competition, formerly known as the Spokane Music Festival. Last year, he brought home the silver medal. He sang at the competition between his performances as the pirate king in the Walla Walla College drama department's production of The Pirates of Penzance.

As the gold medal winner at MusicFest Northwest, Irland won a $250 scholarship and was a featured performer for the Young Artist Concert held by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra at the Metropolitan Performing Arts Center.

It seems incredible considering that four years ago, Irland had no interest in singing. He was a classical guitarist when he fractured his right hand in a wakeboarding accident, eliminating the option of a career playing the guitar. While he was studying to become a music teacher, his voice began to draw attention.

It wasn’t until his junior year that Irland began to consider the possibility of voice as a career, after Matthew James, music department chair, told him he could have a career if he wanted it.

Now Irland performs professionally on a regular basis, and his favorite works are religious or spiritually inspired. “They’re where music and belief come together,” he says.

In January 2005, he will join the Washington East Opera Company, performing in The Barber of Seville. He has previously performed in Verdi’s La Traviata with the company.

He is also trying to decide between graduate school and a teaching career. He plans to continue performing, no matter which option he chooses. He now believes that breaking his hand may have been an act of divine providence.