A look at the musical world of Polly Pappadopoulos

By Ryne Baumhover

Lumen Reporter

Her mother found out she was pregnant with her when she felt the kicking from inside brought on by the music of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” This seemed to have started a lifelong passion for music for Polly Pappadopoulos, director of music and liturgy at Viterbo.

“I knew when I got to high school that I wanted to be a musician,” Pappadopoulos said.

Tucked away in what used to be a practice room on the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Center is Pappado­poulos’ office and studio where she educates people on voice, flute, pia­no, and oboe.

Pappadopoulos teaches between 30 and 40 students a semester, rang­ing in ages from elementary school through college and adult.

“My parents were music teach­ers,” Pappadopoulos said. “I was a very musical child. If I didn’t prac­tice piano, I didn’t get supper.”

Pappadopoulos attended Viter­bo originally as a music education major. “I knew I didn’t want to do that,” she said.

Due to her musical background, she decided to continue on in the music department.

“I was encouraged to choose one instrument to focus on, but I refused,” Pappadopoulos said. “I graduated with degrees in vocal performance, vocal pedagogy, and instrumental pedagogy.”

Upon her graduation from Viterbo, she began teaching in the Prepatory School of Arts, an art program for young children, in 1998 until the school closed last year. “When the prep school closed, I ran a private studio at Viterbo,” Pappadopoulos said.

Her private studio, located just to the left off the elevator of the fourth floor in the FAC, is where she in­structs voice lessons to many of her students including Dylan Harris, a senior at Central High School.

“I’ve been taking lessons from Pol­ly for about eight years now,” Harris said. “My mom heard about Polly from a friend.”

“I like the wide variety of stu­dents I work with,” Pappadopoulos said. “I truly enjoy seeing the per­sonal growth I see in my students and the satisfaction and enjoyment they get through music.”

“We get along really well,” Harris said. “She has a great sense of hu­mor. It’s a very low stress environ­ment.”

Pappadopoulos also contributes to the music at Viterbo in a reli­gious way by serving as the director of music at San Damiano Chapel, where she also directs the St. Francis Choir.

“I was a member of the choir since its inception in 1995 when Earl Madary was the director,” she said. “Earl was a friend and a mentor to me.”

Madary, a faculty member in re­ligious studies , passed away in De­cember 2007.

Pappadopoulos took over di­recting the choir in 2007 as per the requests of Madary and Fr. Tom O’Neill, Viterbo priest for 15 years until his passing in 2009.

“Father Tom came up to the piano that morning and said, ‘You’re choir director now,’ and walked away,” Pappadopoulos said.

One of Pappadopoulos’ passions outside of Viterbo is performing.

“I perform frequently for commu­nity events and love giving back to the community with my music,” she said.

Most recently on the weekend of Nov. 19-21, Pappadopoulos per­formed several different times for Tiny Tim, a charity event hosted ev­ery year at the Cargill Room at the Waterfront, where Christmas trees are raffled off. She sang for the gala dinner on Saturday night and per­formed in flute trios for the brunch on Sunday. Most of her students and the St. Francis Choir performed Sat­urday morning of that weekend.

Despite a busy schedule of teach­ing students, directing the choir, and performing for the community, Pap­padopoulos always makes time for her family.

“My biggest passion is my family: my husband John and our daughter Olivia, who’s 10,” she said.

Anyone interested in becoming a student of Pappadopoulos can email her or stop by her office for more information. Anyone inter­ested in joining the St. Francis Choir may join at anytime by arriving to San Damiano at 10 a.m. on Sundays for rehearsal for mass.

“One of my favorite things about choir is that no matter what happens in rehearsal, it all comes together at mass,” she said. “I think it’s very special to direct a choir whose music truly comes from their hearts.”

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1 Comment

  1. mary popick

     /  December 9, 2011

    very nice article about you, Polly…I am glad you succeeded in pursuing your dream of teaching…I am sure your students are happy to have you in their lives…Congratulations on your successes. Give Livi and JP my love and have a great holiday season! Mary


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