Dr. Kira Omelchenko instructs music management and string student Nate Carson, '18, on how to maintain flawless posture throughout his performance.
Dec 4, 2014
What is the coolest thing you can think of doing with your professor? Can you imagine an orchestra conductor who promises to accompany you in a breakdancing session upon the completion of a grand concert performance?
Well, whether you can imagine it or not, Dr. Kira Omelchenko treats her students with just that: a way to connect as a colleague, after endless grueling hours of management during practice.
It all comes from her inspirational aptitude as a conductor and professor, which is made vibrantly clear anywhere between the sparkle in her eyes that glimmers upon any mention of music to the graceful manner in which she waves the baton.
Nevertheless, the breakdancing surprise is a mere adornment that contributes to her unique personality (something Florida Southern has a plethora of among professors). And while the little promise does serve as an added bonus, some of her students don’t even know about it, and until they find out, it is her talent and authenticity that they find motivating and encouraging.
“Dr. Omelchenko is really genuine with us,” says music major, Jayden Rodriguez. “While still maintaining a professional teacher-student relationship, she feels like a good friend, and even after only a semester of being here, she is someone I know I can trust.”
Omelchenko was welcomed to the Florida Southern Music Department at the start of the fall of 2014 as the assistant professor of music, the orchestra conductor and the director of strings.
Since then, she gained not only her students’ trust, but also presented as guest lecturer in several prestigious symposiums, and, in October 2014, won third place in the opera division of The American Prize in Conducting, a national award in the performing arts.
“Good posture, clear beat, makes the big moments work,” were some of the comments made about her presentation among the judges in this annual competition.
In preparation for the award, which adds to the abundant list she's won in the past, Omelchenko submitted material from a three-act opera, La Traviata, which she completed while guest-conducting the Bulgarian State Opera Company in Burgas.
“It was a rigorous, six-month process,” reflected Omelchenko. “There were 30 final candidates chosen. I feel very lucky and grateful to have been one of the winners.”
It is Omelchenko’s passion and dedication to be among the best that convinced Dr. Brad Hollingshead, FSC professor of English and dean of the school of arts and sciences, that she would be a great fit to the FSC music department.
“When we hired Dr. Omelchenko,” Hollingshead said, “we knew that she brought the right combination of academic and professional experience to contribute immediately to our music program. Students have responded well to her skill as a teacher and conductor, and her most recent award simply underscores what we knew from the beginning.”
When it comes to teaching, Omelchenko has a lot of experience at many different institutions. But Florida Southern seems to have a special place in her heart.
“I fell in love with the beautiful campus and welcoming atmosphere. Also, the talent-level here is high, which one would not see at every undergraduate institution,” she said. “Here, students get the one-on-one experience they need early on– way before graduate school or even their senior year of college. They take a lot of personal responsibility immediately. It really prepares them for the professional world and life after college.”
A lover of music since she was a very young child, Omelchenko followed her dreams and received a doctorate in orchestral conducting from the University of Iowa. Her understanding of what it is to be a music student and the hard work and dedication that comes with it contributes to the affection students have for her. She is able to give them the advice they need to remain inspired.
Music major and string student Sophie Trottier is currently the president of the Orchestra Board, which was established early this year. Trottier, who takes her leadership role very seriously already sees the impact Omelchenko has made.
“Her first year has already proven to be effective. As an orchestra, we have grown in size and talent. I really look up to [Dr. Omelchenko] as a model in orchestra and conducting.”
And upon the next successful concert, she may just look up to Omelchenko as a model in breakdancing, too.
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