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Vassar Grant Enables Alum to Follow Her Dream

Composing music has always been an important part of Eve Joslyn Madalengoitia’s life, but the demands of family and career often pushed aside her passion. Now, thanks to a unique grant administered by Vassar’s Office of Alumnae/i Affairs and Development (OAAD), Madalengoitia ’86, of Poughkeepsie, will spend the next 12 months living her dream. She is the 2019 recipient of Vassar’s Time Out Grant, which enables a Vassar alum over the age of 40 to pause her career and pursue a lifelong interest. Funds for the grant, awarded annually, were provided by an anonymous donor 30 years ago.

Eve Madalengoitia ’85 prepares to follow her dream.

Mary Carole Starke, OAAD’s associate vice president of operations, said Madalengoitia’s project was chosen from among 23 applications. “Eve’s project resonated most with the purpose of the grant,” Starke says, “and it’s great to have a recipient who is from the local community.”

Madalengoitia, a music major at Vassar, discovered at an early age that while she enjoyed performing music, she loved creating it even more. When she was at Vassar, she composed a piece for a fellow student’s senior project in dance. “Composing is something I’ve done on and off ever since,” Madalengoitia says, “but I was always working and raising a family, so I really couldn’t devote the time to it that I wanted. I’m still getting used to the idea that I’ll soon be able to do this work all day long.”

Madalengoitia was self-employed as a strategic planner and grants specialist for not-for-profit agencies and previously oversaw grant programs for the nonprofit agency Arts Mid-Hudson. Starting on July 1, she will begin composing music full time. In addition to using the grant to supplement her income, she’ll spend some of the funds to hire musicians to play her music as she creates it. “I have 10 pieces in mind that I’d like to finish over the next year, and this grant will allow me to put my plans into action and see what’s realistic,” she says. “My goal is to develop my practice as a composer so I can shift the needle and make music a bigger part of my life.”

Even before the start of her grant year began, Madalengoitia attended a festival for women composers in Hartford, CT. She has already begun to work with composer and Vassar Adjunct Associate Professor of Music Susan Botti, seeking guidance on how she will proceed with her work in the coming year. “Working with mentors, I will be able to continue to practice the craft and then perhaps pursue further studies, such as a master’s degree in composition,” she says. 

Madalegoitia says she’ll also use part of the grant to advocate to have more new music heard by audiences in the region. “One of my goals is to organize two concerts of entirely new music,” she says.

Madalengoitia plans to write at least one piece dedicated to her composer-grandfather, who had some of his works performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra before she was born. “He died young, and I never knew him,” Madalengoitia says, “but I always knew I had that musical background.”

Madalengoitia says she’s eager to get started on her year of composing. “It’s an amazing opportunity Vassar has provided me,” she says. “I am very thankful to the Time Out grant committee for providing me with the time to follow my dream.”