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Friday, Jan 28, 2022

Mercer Artist: Amelia Rivers, a musician navigating the Tempest

Amelia Rivers stands outside the McCorkle Music Hall.
Amelia Rivers stands outside the McCorkle Music Hall.

Pianist Amelia Rivers, a freshman, is a Music Arts major as well as an English major. Rivers’ musical inclinations don’t end with the piano, however. She is also a vocalist, and a member of Mercer’s top choral ensemble, the Mercer Singers.

An active member of both the Townsend School of Music and the College of Liberal Arts, Rivers finds that being a part of both schools at Mercer is something that she really loves.

“I’m a big advocate for a liberal arts education, and I find that my music studies blend into my English studies more often than I expect,” Rivers said.

In class, Rivers studied William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”  around the same time that she was learning how to play Beethoven’s “Tempest Sonata.”

“There are surprisingly so many parallels,” Rivers said. “In the sonata, there’s a lot of dynamic contrast. And what is Shakespeare’s “(The) Tempest”? It’s a tragedy, and a comedy, no one’s really sure what box to put it in. Same with Beethoven’s piece.”

Rivers has been playing piano for about eight years. Her sister also plays, and her family has always been very supportive of Rivers’ love of the arts. Rivers said she decided to attend Mercer because it has not only a wonderful music program, but also because of its English department.

Amelia Rivers plays the piano in a McCorkle practice room. Photo by Chas Pridgen

“Mercer is a very strong liberal arts school. It’s the only school within my means that had a very strong music program and a very strong English program. I don’t really like to split myself when it comes to what I love,” Rivers said.

Some of Rivers’ musical inspirations include composers such as Howard Shore and Chopin, as well as more contemporary artists like Twenty One Pilots. She enjoys listening not only to classical music, but also rock and roll.

“I love classic rock, grunge. Anything with good lyrics combined with good music. That’s what really can strengthen a modern piece,” Rivers said.

Rivers is not sure yet if she will plan on pursuing a career in music. As a first-year student, she wants to keep her options open for now. Since she will graduate with a degree in English as well as music, she is considering becoming a teacher.

“I know music will always be a part of me. This education will never leave. I may not be the next John Williams, I may not be the next Howard Shore, but I will always have that little piece to carry,” Rivers said.

Rivers’ ultimate goal would be able to travel and play music all over the world, and she plans to apply for scholarships through Phi Beta Kappa and Fulbright.

She said she would also like to go to graduate school and then either teach at the collegiate or high school level, or become a composer.

Rivers is a big fan of the liberal arts, and would recommend any person who is thinking about going into something like music to just try it out.

“If you love it, you love it. And you just gotta do it. You’ll find a way. Go to class, even those 8 a.m. classes for musicianship… try not to push yourself too hard. Remember that you’re a person and you have needs beyond the music,”  Rivers said. “Sleep, eat and enjoy!”


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