International Faculty Series: Chris Westover-Muñoz

Written by Chris Westover-Muñoz & Mia Miller
Here at Denison, our faculty have a wide range of lived experiences and perspectives. We’d love to highlight this by introducing our new series of International Faculty features! 

09.09.2023. XV Międzynarodowy Festiwal „Muzyka na Szczytach” Zakopane 2023. N/z Koncert Inauguracyjny w Hotelu Belvedere. Fot. Filip Blazejowski 

Our first feature is Chris Westover-Muñoz. Chris is the Associate Professor of Music and has conducted and curated programs both on a national and international scale. Here is what he had to share with students:
I have been working in Poland (Warsaw and Krakow) annually since 2019 and my work there has become a significant part of my creative vision for the next period of my career. In 2019, I won an international conducting competition and since then I have returned for a variety of different invitations. In the 23-24 academic year alone, I will be working in Poland at least three times. 

When thinking about advice for students, there’s a lot that I would share.

First, taking the chance to go first in 2019 was a big leap of faith for me, but taking that chance pushed me to further hone my craft. This work and my professional/artistic relationships in Poland have become some of the most meaningful in my life and had I not taken that chance none of it would be possible. Take the chance!

Second, the value of learning from global perspectives. My discipline in Poland is in a very different place from my discipline in the US. My colleagues in Poland invite me in part to help in their development of the field, but I gain as much if not more from my work there. I’ve learned about composers that worked behind the iron curtain that are entirely unknown in the States. This work has given me the opportunity to reflect from a distance on the strengths and weaknesses of the tradition in my discipline here in the States.

Lastly, this has given me the opportunity to think about student connections in the coming years. This year Denison is a co-sponsor of the conducting competition and we have a vision for several years of partnership in the future. I look forward to sharing all of these friendships and what I’ve learned with my students in the coming years.

My international work has broadened my repertoire, pushed me to learn in new ways, and also given me a different perspective on my own disciplinary tradition from a distance. I have friends/colleagues in my discipline all over the world now and I’m getting new repertoire and ideas from them all the time.