School of Music

Kylie Baird was named the 2023-2024 Presser Scholar at the University of Arizona School of Music, one of the most prestigious awards for undergraduate music students. 

The Presser Foundation was created by Theodore Presser in 1939. The Presser Foundation helps support music schools and departments at universities across the country. Award recipients must demonstrate a high level of musical and academic excellence, leadership, and inclusivity.  

Kylie Baird named 2023-24 Presser Scholar
School of Music Director Dr. Lori Wiest present Kylie Baird the 2024 Presser Scholar award with Dr. Robert C. Robbins at the 50th Annual President’s Concert. 

Baird is a senior studying viola performance. She started playing the viola in the fifth grade. She lives and breathes music into everything she does. Since her sophomore year of college, Baird has been playing in the Arizona Symphony Orchestra. She also has participated in musicology-based projects and research. 

Additionally, she plays in the school’s viola ensemble, an ensemble chamber musician and collaborator, and was invited to perform in a group at the 2022 American Viola Society Festival. At the festival, she also participated in a lecture and recital with four other students on the etudes of Michael Kimber. 

Baird was nominated by the Associate Professor of Viola Dr. Molly Gebrian.

“I have continually been impressed with her outstanding work ethic, her commitment to excellence, and her immense passion for music and the viola. Kylie is one of the hardest working and most dedicated students I have ever taught and has improved by leaps and bounds since she first started here,” Gebrian said. “I am in awe of her incredible strength, resolve, and clarity of purpose. She is a fighter, despite her outwardly quiet (and sometimes meek) demeanor.” 

Baird said she wanted to attend the College of Fine Arts to work with Gebrian. She is currently applying to multiple graduate schools for performance such as DePaul University, Illinois State University, Kentucky, and North Texas. 

What was it like being named as the Presser Scholar? 
It’s kind of crazy honestly. Last year, until my junior year, it was a very transformative for me because this is when I started to really get into musicology and really take my field performance to the next level. My professor, Dr. Gebrian, she’s been very helpful. She taught me technique, pushed me to do all these various projects and I think her support, plus my interest in music history and just wanting to be able to get to this point as a player, really inspired me… I was very much like, my gosh, this is actually happening. This is kind of insane. 

What have you liked most about your college career? 
I think it might be cliche but going to all the music classes. Getting more knowledge on music theory in music literature because of all those elements in music, I try to apply things like researching the piece and the stylistic things that apply to the piece into my own performance, also the performance opportunities. So as cheesy as it is, I really like the core classes because it’s all directly impacted the way I perceive and develop my own playing. 

Being a student and in a symphony, how do you manage your time? 

I feel like I have a good schedule….This year I purposely made my schedule less hectic, so I had more time to practice. I always try to dedicate a good portion of the time of my day for practicing, making sure homework is kept up. But I would say previous years, I’ve had to accommodate my schedule, like waking up early to really solidify two hours of practice time, then going to class and then homework and more practicing, so it kind of fluctuates.

What kind of advice would you give to an incoming freshman going into performance? 
Be yourself and remember why you’re choosing that, like why you’re playing an instrument. I feel like a lot of times this profession can be very stressful and you might feel discouraged at times, but like finding the little ways to reconnect with your instrument, reconnecting with your passion, like, ‘this is the reason why I want to do this.’

What else is next for you? 
Grad school is on the list. I think this summer I’m going to try to do some music programs … probably small chamber ensembles kind of events. After grad school graduation, I will probably secure a spot in a symphony orchestra, maybe start my own studio. I want to continue to do viola, continue music, and continue growing as a player.