Devin DeVargas, a junior at Eastern New Mexico University studying vocal performance, has always been fascinated with music. Starting in third grade, Devin was involved in a choir group that met during lunch. The choir meetings continued until Devin was two years into middle school, where he played euphonium in the concert band.
When Devin reached high school, he became an apprentice singer with the Sangre de Cristo Chorale for three years in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He worked with professional singers and performed in concerts year-round "with some of the most amazing people you could meet.
"The deciding factor [to pursue music as a career] was in my senior year of high school where I performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, with 250 other high school students from around the country," explained Devin, who was one of four student performers from New Mexico for that event.
"Thanks to music, I have been all over the world," said Devin, who has been to Paris, London and many places in the United States.
He strives to get a higher level of education after receiving his bachelor's degree in fall 2019. "I would like to pursue my masters and doctorate degrees in vocal performance, musicology, vocal pedagogy and teach at the collegiate level and/or perform professionally on the opera and recital stages of the world," he said.
Devin is part of the American Choral Directors Association branch at ENMU, where he serves as executive board secretary. Last summer, Devin was a camp counselor for the ENMU Choir Camp, an annual camp for high school choral singers and their directors.
He has held two jobs while attending ENMU: serving as a section leader at First United Methodist Church in Clovis, New Mexico and as a work study for the choral area under Dr. Jason Paulk, professor of music.
The vocal performance student was involved with national and regional choirs in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He has appeared in three musical productions on campus: "The True Story of Cinderella" (2016), "The Pirates of Penzance" (2017) and "A Night at the Opera" (2018).
Devin has many mentors at ENMU. "Dr. Jason and Mrs. Kayla Paulk, are one of the primary reasons I came to ENMU; Dr. Gregory Gallagher and the rest of the amazing voice teachers on faculty (Drs. Sherwood, Beinlich, Hersey, and Ornellas)," he explained. "While I've never had a class with him, Mr. Patrick McCreary from the theatre department is an amazing presence and supporter of students and the arts here at Eastern."
Devin's favorite class at Eastern was "People and Cultures of the World," taught by Dr. Kathy Durand, professor of anthropology. "It was one of the most informative classes I have ever taken," he said.
His favorite place on campus is the Music Building because he is frequently there for work or class. He also enjoys the aural experience of being in the building. "There are days where I am sitting in my office, and I hear a voice lesson, an oboe lesson, a music theory class, a saxophone lesson, vocal coaching, and someone playing the piano, all at the same time. It reminds me why I love music," he explained.
Ultimately, Devin would like to share music and show others its power. "I hope to touch the hearts of people and show that music has the power to change the world. It is more than an art that stuffy people have kept for themselves for centuries, but an accessible art form for all regardless of training or experience."
Devin discusses why other Greyhounds should consider studying music:
"If you cannot picture your life without music and its effects on your life, study music and let it open the world for you.
"If you ever feel like giving up, find the piece that touched you in that way, the way that made you feel like you hadn't felt before. When I'm wondering why I'm bothering doing what I'm doing, I find a recording of my New York experience, usually the 'Anthem for Spring' from 'Cavalleria Rusticana,' or a piece from my time here that we've performed, usually 'Dark Night of the Soul' by Ola Gjeilo.
"My go to, one that I haven't performed, Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, Adagio Sostenuto (movement 2). Something in that composition just touches my soul in a way that I cannot explain.
"One more major piece of advice would be: don't compare yourself to others, older and more experienced, in this field. At 18-22, chances are you won't sound like Pavarotti, DiDonato or any of the other greats. But you will sound better than the you that you were last week, and definitely better than the you a month ago if you begin to study voice."