By Erin Hylen ‘19
On any given day, Gordon College junior Travis E. Benoit ‘18 can be found in one of two places: on the campus baseball fields or in Phillips Music Center.
While a Major League Baseball career doesn’t seem to be on the horizon, the vocal performance major from Worcester, Massachusetts, is seeing his musical endeavors earn substantial recognition. He recently won the Music Department’s Concerto Competition and was selected to work with the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, Massachusetts, this coming summer. Also this summer, he’ll take part in the Classical Singing and New York in June immersion program.
As a youngster, Benoit would have predicted a different future, he said in an interview, but he is perfectly happy trading baseball scores for musical scores.
“I was a baseball and a football player at the time — I still play baseball — but I thought, you know, baseball was for boys, and singing was for girls, which is not so true as it turned out…that was a bad preconception that I had when I was younger,” he said.
Benoit said because of this preconception, he did not get very involved in singing until his sophomore year of high school, when he auditioned for choir to fulfill an arts requirement.
“I was looking for something easy to get the requirement over with … so I auditioned for choir and, of course, got put into all the honors choirs, which made it extremely hard to one-and-done choir,” Benoit said.
It was through his involvement with his school’s jazz choir, Benoit said, that he developed a genuine interest and love for music.
Benoit listed Duke Ellington and Mozart as his favorite composers, and said that he likes to listen to country artists Zac Brown Band and Florida Georgia LineGeorgia Line for fun.
At Gordon, Benoit studies under vocal instructor Heidi Clark.
“Travis takes direction well, so over the course of two and a half years, he has been making steady progress in strengthening his technique and enriching his musicality and expressiveness … It is fun to watch him “step up to the plate” with his singing, as he has done for so long with baseball,” Clark said of Benoit’s development as a vocalist.
He also works with collaborative pianist Christina Chao.
“Travis has always taken on constructive criticism with eagerness and ease, and receives compliments with humility and grace. Singers like Travis are a rare find,” Chao said.
Benoit said Gordon has been a great fit – and the longer he spends in the Music Department, the more he appreciates it.
“As a High school student I saw (in Gordon) a place where I could get a really good music education and also play college level baseball (which is a very rare occurrence),” he said. “As I have been here now, halfway through my second semester of my junior year, I realize even more how special the Music faculty here at Gordon is and the tremendous resources and opportunities they have given me to perform in many different venues from Jazz to Chamber music.:
“The thing I like best about our music program has to be the level of intimacy we have,” he added. “Being a relatively small department I think my professors, advisors, and coaches all really care about me and my colleagues well-being. They take the time to ask you how things are going, they know your name, and they will go out of their way to help you when you reach out to them. It truly is a family and they are rooting for all of us.”
When asked what advice he would give to young boys with an interest in both sports and music, Benoit replied: “Definitely take any and all opportunities that are given. Even try something that you don’t think you might like. You could find you’re right, you don’t like it. Or, you could find out, hey, there’s something to this.”
Benoit said one of his musical ambitions is to be contracted by an opera or theater company after graduation.
In the meantime, the Fighting Scots catcher is scheduled to perform with the Gordon Jazz Ensemble on April 27 at 8 p.m., with the Gordon Symphony Orchestra on April 1 at 7 p.m. and at his Junior Degree Recital on April 30.