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Ears Wide Open presents four concerts per school year with the interests of university students and campus community members in mind through the use of non-traditional venues, thoughtful programming, and compelling interdisciplinary collaborations. The EWO team proudly combines a variety of majors and minors in Music Performance, Music Industry Studies, Jazz Studies, Finance, Marketing, Entertainment, Film, and Media Arts, all from undergraduate through DMA students. The team consists of an Artistic Director, Operations and House Manager, Financial Officer and Assistant Stage Manager, Marketing and Social Media Director and House Manager, Technical Director, and a Logistics Director and Stage Manager. The EWO team works closely with two faculty advisors, Dr. Jennifer-Parker Harley and Dr. Mike Harley, and the School of Music Dean Harding.
The series strives to promote the importance of live music and models innovation, empathy, inclusivity, and curiosity through the arts.
Originally from Fresno, California, Alyssa Santiváñez is a current Master of Music Flute Performance student at the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor's Degree in Flute Performance and Certificate in Music Entrepreneurship from Ball State University. Past musical projects Santiváñez has completed are Mental Harmony, a musician’s mental health resource in the form of a podcast, website, and social media outlet at Ball State, Safety Through Sounds, a virtual flute music video fundraising collaboration with Doctors Without Borders and the Ball State Flute Studio for COVID-19 relief, and The Lullaby Project, a Carnegie Hall collaboration dedicated to pairing new and expecting mothers with songwriters inside correctional facilities in Columbia, SC. The current project Santiváñez is completing is a USC Spark Music Leadership Community Impact Grant titled, “Melodic Mindsets” which serves to provide musician-focused mental health resources to the University of South Carolina School of Music. Santiváñez is currently the Ears Wide Open, a concert series dedicated to adventurous listeners, Artistic Director and has performed as a flutist with the USC Wind Ensemble and USC Symphonic Winds. She is the 2021 Presser Scholar and 2021 Aria Concerto Competition Winner from Ball State University, the past President of the Ball State Flute Guild from 2019-2022, and the 2021-2022 student representative of the Ball State Diversity Committee. Santiváñez has completed summer camps such as the Fresno Opera Orchestra Academy, Aria International Summer Academy, Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, Manhattan School of Music Summer Camp, and Domaine Forget.
Operations and House Manager
Operations and House Manager Ed Senn (they/them) is a first year Doctor of Musical Arts student in bassoon performance— holding degrees from both the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Arizona. They’ve worked in house management teams in New England and the Southwest prior to beginning this position here at Ears Wide Open. Making an event an experience for the audience is key to them, novel and immersive experiences are what students are seeking out now more than ever. When not practicing or making reeds, they can be found hanging out with their wife, Krista, and cat, Spammy..
Financial Officer and Assistant Stage Manager
Drew Michalak is a sophomore at The University of South Carolina pursuing a degree in Finance with a double minor in Entertainment Management and Music Industry Studies and is the Ears Wide Open Financial Officer and Assistant Stage Manager. Drew’s current studies support his goal of emphasizing connection, fairness, and financial education as an Artist Manager, to cultivate the careers of the industry’s future stars. In an effort to gain experience and grow his skill set, Drew spends the majority of his time outside the classroom involved in the university’s music scene, serving as an administrator for Plazapalooza —a student-led concert series for student artists at USC. He also holds an executive position in the Music Industry Studies Club and is an active member of the Songwriting Club.
Drew’s desire to build a career in the music business stems from the deep appreciation for music he developed at an early age. From watching his dad play in a cover band to discovering the catalogs of singer-songwriters such as Ed Sheeran and John Mayer, Drew acquired a fascination with all aspects of the creation of music, especially with the guitar.
Drew admires how such artists craft lyrics and produce songs that drive fans to stream their music religiously and then go on to sell out arenas. However, Drew realized that these successful musicians had incredible management nurturing their careers, so that they were able to focus solely on their art. You can often find Drew nurturing his own love for music whether in hours on his family’s porch playing guitar or jamming to music on his walks in between classes. Beyond music, Drew enjoys traveling with his family, running, hanging out with his Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers and attending USC football games.
Marketing and Social Media Manager and Assistant House Manager
Bella Veal is a sophomore at The University of South Carolina pursuing a dual-degree in Marketing and Music Industry Studies. She has recognized that success in the music industry hinges not only on artistic talent but also on meticulous business procedures; therefore, she actively immerses herself in a wide array of organizations and programs across both schools. Through these collaborations, she aims to bridge the gap between creativity and commerce, seeking to harness the strengths of both realms to foster sustainable growth for student musicians and to enhance the overall musical presence on campus. Her involvement as Director of Marketing and Social Media for Plazapalooza as well as her leadership roles within a business fraternity, MIS Club and Greek life, has refined her ability to connect and engage diverse audiences within the realm of music.
Outside of her professional commitments, you will likely find Bella at a concert, a local coffee shop, or a hot yoga class. Throughout her life, she has engaged in various creative hobbies, spanning multiple mediums, including ceramics, baking, video editing, and graphic design. These outlets offer her unique avenues to explore and express my artistic sensibilities in distinctive ways. Moreover, they catalyze her inherent passion for storytelling and foster an unwavering adoration for creativity.
Andrew W. Kevic is a Master of Music Performance student and the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the clarinet studio at the University of South Carolina. He currently is the Technical Director for Ears Wide Open, a concert series with the mission to provide accessible live music to the student community. Andrew is also a member of the FUSE Ensemble, a graduate-level woodwind quintet dedicated to community engagement and outreach to underprivileged communities in South Carolina. Andrew is a graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, a nationally recognized residential high school focused on pre-professional development within the fine arts. From there, he pursued a B.M. in Music Performance at the University of Michigan, graduating summa cum laude in 2023. Andrew’s past teachers include Dan Gilbert, Chad Burrow, Dr. Kyra Zhang, and Dr. Robert Chesebro.
Working as an electrician and lighting designer throughout his undergraduate career, Andrew is passionate about the implementation of theatrical lighting into live classical and contemporary music. He has worked as a production assistant at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance, collaborating frequently with student, faculty, and guest performers alike. He also worked as a technician at the Keene Theater, a university performance hall in the School of Literature, Science, and Art. Andrew has also worked as a Head Electrician for the Spoleto Festival USA and electrician for the Bay View Music Festival.
Logistics Director and Stage Manager
Malik Pratt is a master’s jazz studies student at the University of South Carolina. His primary instrument is drum set, but he also has a background in orchestral percussion and marching percussion. He has his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Western Carolina University. During his younger years as a musician, he began to play the clarinet. Once he reached high school, he began to dive into the percussion family. This is where he began doing marching band and orchestral percussion. He continued this and decided to become a music major in 2018. As he began playing more music his love for jazz flourished, he always enjoyed playing it, but he wanted to focus on other things. It wasn’t until 2020 that he decided to pursue his master’s in jazz studies. This led to him performing at jazz jams and playing several gigs. He also had the opportunity to host his own jazz jam. As well as joining several Western Carolina Jazz ensembles. He plans to pursue his doctorate as well and become a jazz professor in the future. His role in Ears Wide Open is that of an Logistics Director and Stage Manager. His responsibilities are to think through the flow of the concerts from a logistical perspective, including discussion with representatives from the performing ensembles. As well as work with other members of the team to ensure the concert runs smoothly.
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