Upon first meeting Patricia Kazarow, one may not be aware of the passion, intelligence and high dedication that the choral professor has brought to Gustavus. But then she bursts with an energy and enthusiasm that immediately draws the listener in to what she is saying.
One cannot help but be engaged when around Professor Kazarow. This is one of Patricia Kazarow’s (or PK, as she is known among choir students) most appreciated qualities. Reflecting on her first meeting with Patricia, Junior Sociology and Anthropology Major Anna Ayers Looby noticed this quality. “Her musical knowledge and professionalism was very apparent, yet somehow not intimidating,” Looby said. “I immediately had the sense that we were on the same side. The side that wanted to make music.”
Patricia joined the Gustavus faculty 27 years ago as a professor of music and will be retiring after this semester. She has taught applied organ, music theory, a series of courses on church music and a large variety of January Interim Experience courses in the past, and is currently teaching a first term seminar course, History of Western Music I and Music of World Cultures.
Patricia is also the conductor of small choral ensembles as well as the Choir of Christ Chapel. “Each professor wears many hats here at Gustavus. My principal one is as a choral conductor,” Patricia said. “I get to teach in my specialty.”
Patricia explains her love for ensambles quite simply. “Ensembles are different. You get to know each other in a very special way. Everyone can be who they are and still we can all come together.”
Before coming to Gustavus, Patricia completed her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Michigan. Patricia has been involved in music her whole life, beginning with the piano when she was three.
It was during Patricia’s undergrad years that she knew she wanted to be a music teacher. “I had the opportunity to work with a national choral conductor, and that pushed me towards choral music than ever before,” Patricia said.
Patricia’s real passion is in bringing out the individuality of each voice and creating, in the words of her mentor, “a mixture of correctly produced differences.”
“Each choir is different because each singer is different and sings with his or her individual voice,” Patricia said. “This allows me to choose repertoire that is particularly suited to those singers.” She is very committed to bringing out the individuality of each singer.
As part of her commitment to individual growth, Patricia makes certain to meet with every student personally at least once a semester to help them in their musical journey. “She works tirelessly on behalf of her students,” Patricia Snapp, an associate professor in the music department, said. “Her heart is with her students, and she believes that each student is a wellspring of potential and is capable of greatness.”
Students also feel her passion for student growth. “She constantly strives for the best out of her students and pushes them to reach their best in anything they do,” Junior Music Major Michael Asmus said. “PK is such an inspiration both on the podium and in the classroom.”
Despite Patricia’s high expectations for her students, she is also well-known for her high energy in class. Many of Patricia’s students speak of her classroom antics. “Patricia has a fierce intensity, but she also has a fun sense of humor and the ability to laugh and to play. … She loved being a part of the campus community,” Snapp said.
“One of my favorite choir memories was when she decided that we weren’t getting into a particular piece enough and leapt onto the organ to enthuse us. What a moment!” Looby said. Patricia’s students are full of inside jokes, such as “Ears like Dumbo,” “Can you hear the difference?”, “Don’t be schizo-phonic!” and “chum chum.”
These phrases, which are hopelessly entangled to the passive observer, can indicate a complicated choral technique to Patricia’s students. “She never stops thinking about how she can get students to learn what she has to offer,” Sophomore Philosophy Major Dan Burnett said. “She encourages hard work, perseverance, systematic learning, the love of learning and unquenchable optimism by being all of these things herself.”
Patricia has been extensively involved in many outside classroom activities as well. She has also traveled to Africa three times while working at Gustavus and works with living composers who have been commissioned to write pieces for her choir.
Upon leaving Gustavus, she reminisces one of her strongest memories was the creation of the “Prayer of St. Francis,” a piece that was first performed by the Choir of Christ Chapel in 2003. Another favorite memory was an inter-departmental collaboration entitled “Dear Voices,” a program that celebrated historical women’s voices. The project included professors and staff from the English, religion, counseling, theatre and dance and, of course, music departments.
Once Patricia leaves Gustavus, she plans to continue her professional activities, including further study into the physical and psychological techniques of choral work. She is also looking forward to hiking, kayaking and camping at her new home in Birch Bay, Wash.
Her students assert that she will be greatly missed. “She is a remarkable woman and almost too brilliant. We are all sad to see PK go,” First-Year Japanese Studies Major Michael Morimoto said. However, as Morimoto points out, the enthusiasm she instills in her students will continue to make her influence felt on campus. “Her passion for music doesn’t start and stop with choir. She lives her life with melody and rhythm and, as such, makes other people eager to be enlightened with music,” Morimoto said.