Fine Arts graduate Alayna McNeil (BMus '24) took advantage of every opportunity to perform during her studies at the University of Lethbridge, even participating in the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra. As the most distinguished graduate of her class, Alayna reflects on her time at ULethbridge and shares how she is preparing for her next chapter.

Meet Alayna. Determined. Hard-working. Optimistic.
Medal won: Faculty of Fine Arts Gold Medal
Program: Bachelor of Music | Major: Music

What does this academic recognition mean to you?

I am deeply honoured to be the recipient of this award. I know that many of my incredibly talented and hard-working colleagues and friends were also nominated for this award, and it is an honour to be acknowledged alongside them. This award reflects the superb education I received at the University of Lethbridge.

I could never have achieved what I have without the inspiration, support and kindness from my wonderful professors, colleagues and friends in the Faculty of Fine Arts. I am extremely grateful for my time at the University of Lethbridge, which has helped me to learn so much about myself and to grow as a both a musician and person.

What was your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

I have had so many memorable, valuable and life-altering experiences during my time at the university. I absolutely love performing and getting to share music with audiences, and I am grateful for the many performance opportunities the Department of Music provided.

One of my favourite moments was performing my graduation recital, which was an incredibly valuable experience that allowed me to celebrate my growth and improvement as a musician throughout the four years of my degree.

Another of my favourite moments was getting the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra. This was a goal that I had been working towards for a long time, and the instruction and support from my studio instructor, Professor Peter Visentin, made this goal a reality.

What is an important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?

I think the most important lesson I have learned is to find a joy and purpose that is unique to me in all that I do. I have achieved the most success and happiness as a musician by embracing my own unique qualities and working towards performing, collaborating and teaching music in a way that is authentic and fueled by passion and enjoyment.

Is there anyone specific who had an important influence during your studies?

My studio instructor, Professor Peter Visentin, has had a deeply important influence on my ULethbridge experience, and I am beyond grateful that I have had the opportunity to study with him. No other teacher could have taught me what he has, and I never could have made it to my current level of playing without his valuable instruction. Professor Visentin teaches with encouragement, support and passion that makes learning violin a deeply joyful and captivating process. Thanks to Professor Visentin I have learned countless valuable life lessons and grown so much as a musician.

I have also had the privilege of learning so much about chamber music and collaborative playing from Dr. Deanna Oye, and I am very grateful for her instruction. All of the incredible professors in the Department of Music have taught me so much, and have played an vital role in shaping who I am today as a musician and person.

I am also deeply grateful for the wonderful friends I have made throughout my degree, and for the opportunities to perform and work with so many of my incredibly talented fellow students.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

I will be attending the University of Denver in Fall 2024 for a Master of Music in Performance. I am very excited for this new chapter in my life, and to continue learning and growing as a violinist and musician. Eventually, I hope to play professionally with an orchestra, as well as to play in chamber music ensembles and teach private violin lessons.

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

My advice would be to spend time exploring your unique interests, passions and characteristics to find a path that truly resonates with you. Aim for the stars with your goals and work hard to achieve them, taking risks and finding joy in the ups and downs and unknowns of your journey.
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