Student Focus: Michael Banwarth

May 6, 2021

Name: Michael BanwarthMichael Banwarth

Major: Piano Performance

Hometown: Dubuque, Iowa

Planned Graduation Date: May 2021

What are you involved with here at ISU and beyond? I’m heavily involved in the Music Department here. I have accompanied for several choral ensembles, and worked as Assistant Music Director for the Iowa State Opera Studio. Outside of the music building, I enjoy accompanying on the piano for masses at my church in Ames, St. Thomas Aquinas.

What pieces are you working on right now? Honestly, I’ve lost track of everything I’m working on! For collaborative piano, a variety of art songs and arias, violin sonatas by César Franck and Amy Beach, and Rebecca Clarke’s viola sonata. For solo piano, Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy (a piece I’ve been hoping to play for several years!).

What are you doing/looking forward to this semester? I’m looking forward to hopefully completing my graduate school auditions and determining what the next step in my education will look like. I’ve been incredibly lucky to find fantastic collaborative partners here, as I’ve been recording hours and hours of music for various programs.

What is your favorite thing about your experiences at Iowa State? I love the many opportunities that exist within the program here. I’ve been able to participate in choral performances and tours nationally and in Norway, tour the Steinway factory in New York City, serve as TA for three Music History courses, and participate in masterclasses with world class artists. The faculty here has helped me every step of the way to make the most of my time at ISU, and feel as prepared as I can for the next stage of my musical journey.

Why did you choose the Dept. of Music and Theatre at ISU? I think, primarily, because of the faculty. As a collaborative pianist, I have been able to work with most of the faculty members in the music program, which has been incredibly rewarding and instructive for me as a musician. I was also really hoping to do some choral accompanying during undergrad and Iowa State offered me a unique position, wherein I have worked with all four of ISU’s large choral ensembles as a pianist and rehearsal assistant.

What are your interests beyond music and theatre? I adore reading, particularly classics and poetry. I also like to find and brew new teas. I will graduate with a minor in Philosophy from Iowa State, and have taken courses in German and French as well.

What are your plans after graduation? I’m hoping to attend a graduate school and study collaborative piano and vocal coaching. Eventually, I would love to work at a university or perhaps an opera company as a coach and pianist, working with singers in a variety of capacities.

Any words of wisdom for prospective students? Try to find opportunities for collaboration, with faculty members, fellow students, and especially people in other areas of music/theatre or other majors entirely. The best experiences I’ve had here have been ones where I was working with other people. College is a unique time in your life, because you are surrounded by people who are trying to make many of the same decisions and figure out what comes next. This provides enormous potential for personal and professional growth. Listening and observing are just as enlightening as speaking and performing!



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