Music graduate explores the importance of music and the arts

By

Lynne MacDonald

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Anna Galura is an experienced and accomplished performer and an educator who is not only concerned with how to train musicians but also how to serve a community through the arts.

Galura graduates in May with a Master of Music in violin performance and pedagogy and a graduate certificate in music entrepreneurship.

“Anna is an ardent champion of art and culture, a passionate antiracist pedagogue and a leading 21st-century innovator and activist in the arts,” said Katherine McLin, professor of violin in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre and Galura’s teacher.

In addition to her violin, Galura uses her voice and pen as instruments to advance art and culture through the use of technology and social media platforms to advocate for, advance and encourage entrepreneurship in the arts, in order to address community social and economic needs.

In 2021, when much of the work at ASU was still taking place at home and online, Galura began cultivating an internationally accessible podcast, “Music | Why?,” dedicated to exploring the value of music and its role in peoples’ lives through interviews with music industry professionals around the globe. Her podcast features world renowned guests, including Afa Dworkin, Chi-chi Nwanoku, Titus Underwood, Michael Ballam and more, and it expands on the usage of music as a powerful tool for building communities.

“I was craving the kinds of conversations and relationships that a university normally offers in person, and I wanted to feature current projects and solutions to the challenges artists were facing around the world,” Galura said. “Brilliant people accepted my invitation and were abundantly generous with their time and wisdom. The experience has been rewarding beyond measure.”

“Music | Why?” has spawned a number of future publications and projects. In May, the International Horn Society “Horn Call” magazine will publish Galura’s article, “The 21st Century Artist & The Art of Collaboration,” featuring her work and findings through the podcast and an interview with professional horn player Larry Williams. 

In addition to her podcasting, Galura serves as a teaching assistant for Professor McLin and teaches violin lessons in her local community. She also maintains a vibrant career as a performer, playing throughout the country and internationally as a soloist, chamber musician and concertmaster. As a musician, entrepreneur, presenter and arts manager, she pushes the boundaries and draws upon multiple artistic mediums for inspiration, and she positions herself at the center of public life.

“Anna has that rare combination of academic drive and excellence;  compassion and empathy for her peers; and a clear-eyed vision for her creative practice, career and life,” said Daniel Roumain, Institute Professor and professor of practice in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “I learned as much from Anna as I hope she gained from our class. In this, Anna has always been a learner, leader and teacher. She embodies the best of us and offers anyone she meets hope.” 

This summer Galura has been invited to present a workshop on “The 21st Century Artist” at the Kennedy Center’s Co-Lab Festival, sponsored by the DMV Music Academy and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Her future plans include aiming for a director of arts and culture position and someday serving on the National Cabinet for Arts and Culture.

“Anna is a tireless advocate for the power of the arts to transform the individual as well as build and enrich a community,” McLin said. “She demonstrates this in numerous ways both small and large, from her stellar work teaching music majors at ASU to her thought-provoking podcast on the role and relevance of music in today’s society. I have no doubt that Anna will be a major figure in arts advocacy, and I can’t imagine the future of the arts in better hands.”

Galura received a teaching assistantship, the Katherine Herberger Music Scholarship and a Special Talent Award while attending ASU.

“Without this funding, I would not have had the past two life changing years at ASU,” Galura said. “It was the difference between getting a master’s degree or not, and I am  extremely thankful.”

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: The "aha" moment came to me when a loving violin teacher said to me during a lesson in high school one day, "Anna, do you want to heal bodies or do you want to heal souls?" The question came because I was very seriously contemplating a career in the medical field, but I was torn by my love of music. At that moment, I just knew.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I had a professor, Dr. Katherine McLin, who very compassionately offered the advice, "Don't let 'perfect' rob you of 'good'." Then, another professor, Dr. Christi Jay Wells, extended the phrase by saying, "Don't let 'good' rob you of 'done.'" Both pieces of advice came at critical points in my education, and I am grateful for the enlarged perspective on what it means to "accomplish" something. I've found myself hesitating in the past to take chances or try something new for fear of doing a poor job. I think it's part of growing up to realize that you can't offer your best work 100% of the time. When I find myself in the trap of thinking otherwise, I am my own worst enemy.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I specifically chose ASU for four reasons:

1. To study with a world class teacher, Dr. Katherine McLin.
2. To be her graduate teaching assistant.
3. To take advantage of the entrepreneurship program and "innovation bug" here.
4. To be in the West, closer to mine and my husband's family. Since being here, my eyes have been opened to the myriad of opportunities and relationships to be had in the community of Phoenix. I love it!

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: During my second semester at ASU, I suffered from an injury that prevented me from playing violin for almost six months. It was a devastating time. Dr. McLin listened patiently as I expressed to her some of my concerns about my future. She gave me two very powerful pieces of advice: "Never let fear be the deciding factor for a decision. You can do anything you want to do." And, "There is always another side to these times. When you come out the other end, it will be beautiful, and you will be all the stronger for it." I can say a year later that both of those pieces of advice are manifest in my life today.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Be curious. Get to know everyone and all of your professors as well as you can. These relationships are the foundation to a rich life of learning and community. You'll soon find that everything is connected.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: Like many violinists, I spent much of my time hunkered down in the practice room. My practice room was the TA office, which is also where I taught, had amazing conversations with students and friends, did a lot of homework, ate my lunch, rested. It was quiet and cozy. It's amazing what one can accomplish in such a small space.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Apart from playing and teaching the violin, I intend to spend time working in the nonprofit sector for arts and cultural organizations. This June I will be a guest presenter and podcaster at the “Co-Lab Music Festival” hosted at “The Reach” at the Kennedy Center, where I will advocate the importance of an entrepreneurial mindset and present interactive programming that provides opportunities for students to develop collaborative skills.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I'm not so sure if I could actually solve any single problem with only $40 million but I would attempt to wage a war on human trafficking. I grieve each day by the fact that people of all ages are enslaved around the globe, including the United States. It is a shameful part of our history, something I believe must be a collective responsibility in order to eradicate forever. Free agency is a precious gift, one that should be protected at all costs.