Edouard's work is focused on expanding access to music education in ways that help acknowledge composers, musicians, and lyricists who might not have had their work circulated through the mainstream as often and use those voices to break down those walls of prejudice in music education.
As a child, what profession did you envision for yourself when you grew up?
As a child, I thought I would become an actor. Watching the Oscars was like a national holiday for me; I still daydream about my acceptance speech. I was also really good at recreating scenes from movies that I had seen. People familiar with this talent of mine became reluctant to watch movies with me because they knew I would precisely re-enact the whole movie, especially if it was a musical.
In my early teens I started focusing on becoming a marine biologist in the hopes of eventually becoming an aquanaut. I have always found sea life far more fascinating than terrestrial life. I thought I would discover a new sea animal one day.
What was the most transformative course from your undergraduate education?
Political science was a very transformative course for me during my undergraduate education. It was the first time I was introduced to a philosophical way of thinking that laid a foundation for how I navigate my own career. The class was set up like a stereotypical college class you see in the movies where there are over a hundred students in a massive lecture hall, and your instructor speaks over a microphone. I had to quickly figure out what a few ancient Greek philosophers and I had in common, and how I would be able to put my own spin on assignments.
You’ve taught music in three countries including Uganda, where you founded the Kampala Choral Festival, and in Turkey, where you were a teaching artist and choral director for the Flying Carpet Festival. What did you find most rewarding in these roles?
The most rewarding part of these roles is working with students and locals who love to create music. I am truly my best self when I am working with them because I am surrounded by experts who know music from their culture, and they share that pride and love of music with me. We may not be able to speak the same languages, but music gives us the ability to express ourselves to one another in our rehearsals and performances. The smiles from students and the laughs from colleagues make what I am privileged to do a labor of love.
You were previously awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge. What did you gain from this experience?
During my time at Cambridge, I gained a love of researching topics that focused on racial injustices or that valued the experiences of Black and Brown people. I realized that I can be a scholar that tells my own stories from my perspective. I had been running from the idea that I could be considered a scholar or researcher, feeling that I would not be taken seriously because of my cultural background. I was fortunate to be completely surrounded by individuals who believed in me more than I could believe in myself. I used the time at Cambridge to think of new ways to broaden my approach to equitable music education and research.
In your involvement with the New York Phi Beta Kappa Association, you've participated in their mentorship program. What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
Being a mentor for Phi Beta Kappa is such a wonderful experience. I was looking forward to being more involved in PBK, so when I was asked to be a mentor I jumped at the opportunity. What I have enjoyed the most is getting the chance to collaborate on ideas with another member of PBK. My mentee has shared wonderful ideas with me, and we have had fun thinking of ways to build our network. I am truly honored to have been asked to be a mentor.
You and Biologist Dr. Piotr Jung also co-founded a series called COVID-sations supported by the New York Association. What is this series about?
COIVD-sations is a series of organized public engagements dedicated to sharing information about COVID-19, its variants, and vaccines to the general public. We are focused on sharing the latest information with especially underrepresented communities who often feel excluded from understanding this vital information. The series was supported by the PBKNY association, and COVID-sations has successfully encouraged many who attend our sessions to receive a vaccine against COVID-19.
Do you think Phi Beta Kappa and a well-rounded, liberal arts and sciences education are important in today’s society?
Most definitely! Having a well-rounded education is invaluable, as it will improve interpersonal skills, sharpen critical thinking, and build tools for effective communication. As I encounter new people and my interests shift through the years, having gone to a liberal arts school provides me comfort as my career evolves.
What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?
Someone who is a source of support throughout the pandemic would say, “Have an open mind and spread good thoughts because beauty can be found in the smallest things. Remember, Collin, good things rarely come easy and we may have to walk through the mud to reach dry land.”
What book are you reading right now? Are you listening to any podcasts or watching any shows? Anything you'd recommend?
I am currently reading The Book of Awesome
by Neil Pasricha. It is an AWESOME book that reminds us about all the things in our life that can make us smile or feel good. The book covers everything from getting the milk to cereal ratio just right to walking in the same snowy footsteps as the person who first put their footprint in the snow. I highly recommend this book to everyone especially now during a time that has caused so much stress and uncertainty.
Gates Cambridge Profile
New York Association