Student Spotlight – Danielle Hutchison: Pianist

student_spotlightAs “Fiddler on the Roof” is performed in the Devries Theatre, you’ll hear music, see dancing and watch characters come to life. But Danielle Hutchison heard the music long before opening night.

Hutchison, a junior music major and rehearsal pianist for “Fiddler,” had learned much of the music by last fall’s auditions for the show, said Chandler Hull, who plays Tevye’s daughter Tzeitel.

“She mastered this music,” Hull said. “It’s difficult music, and she came into auditions having it like perfectly memorized and knowing what she’s doing.”

The show’s directors approached Hutchison in the fall about taking on the role of rehearsal pianist. Though she said she was at first hesitant about accepting the offer and giving up possible acting experience, Hutchison, who is pursuing a theatre minor, agreed to be the rehearsal pianist.

“This is more along the lines of what I want to kind of do long term, so I was like, ‘This is a cool opportunity,’” she said.

As rehearsal pianist, Hutchison played piano for the cast at all the rehearsals and collaborated with the directors about the music. She also has a part playing in the full orchestra for the two weekends of performances.

But, Hull said, Hutchison’s presence is worth more than the music she plays.

“A rehearsal pianist is important to our show because, number one, without her we wouldn’t have any music to be singing with,” Hull said. “And the thing that makes Danielle super, super helpful is not only is she a pianist, she’s also a vocalist.”

Hull explained that Hutchison bridges the music and theatre departments because of her deep understanding as a pianist, vocalist and actress.

“She’s on the same page as far as the music and acting goes,” Hull said.

Previous experience

Hutchison draws her collegiate acting experience from Cedarville’s 2013 productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Taming of the Shrew.” Her musical involvement at

Cedarville includes playing piano for SGA’s chapel band and the jazz band, singing with the jazz band and playing flute in the symphonic band.

It’s these skills in theatre and music that have encouraged Hutchison to consider pursuing a graduate program for musical direction in theatre.

“I just discovered this musical direction thing like last semester,” Hutchison said. “And it’s just been really cool, because I’ve known I’ve wanted to do music and theatre, but I hadn’t found that niche quite yet. So it was really cool last semester when all of a sudden this new idea came into mind, and I just looked back, and it was like, ‘Oh yeah, God provided all of these opportunities that now I can join together.’”

From the conducting experience she gained at Cedarville High School to accompanying vocalists at Cedarville, Hutchison said she’s looking back and seeing how it applies to the field of musical direction – a field of study which only two universities across the nation offer and select just one student on average each year.

Playing for another

Aleska Barkoviak, an SGA band member and junior vocalist whom Hutchison accompanies, said Hutchison’s piano playing isn’t done for the sake of playing piano.

“As an individual performer, she’s very, very committed to her art,” Barkoviak said. “And it’s not just like playing music for her; it’s something bigger than that, and she really enjoys it. She has a passion for it, and she’s incredibly good at it, like she just is. She’s good at doing solo work, but also as being an accompanist.”

Barkoviak said Hutchison’s humility and heart for worship is exemplified through Hutchison’s involvement in the SGA band.

And Hutchison fits perfectly into the SGA band because of her character, said Caleb Peterson, a junior vocalist also accompanied by Hutchison.

“If you want someone who can play very well, who will be able to work with the band well and also has a very strong personal relationship with the Lord, it’s going to be Dani,” he said.
Hutchison doesn’t make the music cluttered with constant piano but fits herself in as part of the bigger picture, Barkoviak said.

“She has a genuine heart for worshipping the Lord,” Barkoviak said. “And I think that’s why she’s very good at playing a contemporary style, because she understands it’s not about music; it’s about more than that.”

Hutchison said she’s learning different lessons about life, people and outreach through all of the different activities she’s involved in, be it performance groups, theatre or as a member of Student Life Programs.

“I love doing what I love doing,” she said. “I just love pursuing my passions and getting the opportunity to use the gifts and the talents that God has given me, and finding outlets for those has been really fun.”

Anna Dembowski is a junior journalism major and managing editor/arts & entertainment editor for Cedars. She likes nearly anything that is the color purple and enjoys spelling the word “agathokakological.”

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