BY MIRANDA WHEELER ’19
As a curatorial intern with the Mount Holyoke Art Museum and concert manager for the music department, Relyn Myrthil ’19 is familiar with Mount Holyoke’s arts scene.
Her vast resume includes being a classically trained violist, violinist, singer, conductor, Sphinx Organization fellowship recipient, community educator and student. Next week Mythril has the chance to present her work as a conductor with the Mount Holyoke Orchestra and a curator with the museum.
Talking to Myrthil, there is little doubt that she enjoys a challenge and is drawn to ambitious projects. “I love big pieces,” she said. “If it’s not big enough, I’ll make it bigger.”
Still, the path to music and the arts at Mount Holyoke was not always clear. “I’ve been doing music pretty seriously my entire life, but when I came to Mount Holyoke, I was originally going to be a biology major with a marine biology certificate and a psychology minor,” said Myrthil. “That didn’t happen at all.”
As a first-year, she approached the music department chair about potentially declaring a minor and coordinating lessons. By the end of the appointment, Myrthil said she had been talked into declaring a music major and has since never looked back. “I’ve just delved more and more into the department with every semester,” she said.
Myrthil’s interest in conducting (her major’s concentration) developed when she took a conducting seminar during her sophomore year. “That semester was really the turning point for me,” she said. “The conducting class became more of a mentorship program. Midway through the semester I was offered to conduct the orchestra in a concert. I fell in love.”
She hopes to continue making art, in all its forms, for as many people as possible — especially those with limited access and underrepresentation. “[Music] is something that I grew up listening to,” she said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see a lot of people who looked like me in positions of power within these art forms, but it’s something I know we can work towards.”
Her devotion to this cause has motivated Myrthil to help create opportunities for others. She started a collaboration between Makerspace and the museum to explore the relationship between science, technology and artistic practice.
Myrthil’s involvement with the Art Museum was also unanticipated. She received an internship offer after she attended a Posse Scholar meeting in the museum during her sophomore year. “I told the museum staff that they should do a collaboration with the music department,” she said. “They encouraged me to apply for the internship position. They’ve given me more and more opportunities. Here I am now, ready to put up my own show in a week.”
Inspired by “The Quilts Of Mary Lee Bendolph” from a previous installation called “Piece Together,” Myrthil’s curated show “Remember Us: Sewing Our Past and Present Together” includes quilts and textiles from Sisters in Stitches Joined By The Cloth (a Boston-based quilting group) with written collaborations from Mount Holyoke’s Association of Pan African Unity (APAU).
“It explores the history of the African-American struggle . . . These quilters have been able to go back into their ancestry and through their quilting tell the stories of their ancestors,” she said. “These stories need to be told, not only because they are so important to the history, but also [because] they’re so important and so present in our conversations now. That’s what I’m trying to communicate with this exhibition, the fact that these stories are not so far away as we might think.”
“Remember Us” opens Feb. 27 in the Art Museum lobby and Myrthil will be conducting in “Games of Chance,” the Mount Holyoke Orchestra’s performance on March 2.