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Student conductor fills life with music

A typical day for Kristina Ruffo is everything but uneventful. While teaching at Maine-Endwell High School and taking night classes to finish her master’s degree in conducting, Ruffo still finds time to practice with the Binghamton University mixed chorus, conduct the University’s Women’s Chorus, partake in African drumming class and spend time with her husband, Anthony.

 Ruffo, 25, has a musical past. “My mom started me playing the piano at 3 years old, and since then, I have always been involved in band, chorus and musicals,” she said.

Getting people to understand music is crucial to being a good musician, and an important aspect that Ruffo stresses to her students in her sight-singing and music theory classes. “Music is its own language,” she said.

Ruffo earned her undergraduate degree in music education from Ithaca College. When she came to Binghamton, Ruffo became director of the women’s chorale.

“Working with the chorus motivates me to keep learning and expanding my knowledge,” said Ruffo, who’s in her second year with the group. “I try to make it entertaining for my students because the more energetic I am, the more my students pick up on it.”

She loves to conduct challenging pieces, such as those in a foreign language, because they hit the students in a new way and affect the audience differently, motivating her to work harder.

“The high school kids are so entertaining and by that age, those are the kids who enjoy music and want to be there,” Ruffo said. “It’s interesting to see how many returning freshmen I’ll have.”

Peter Brown, director of Harpur Chorale, has worked in collaboration with Ruffo at Binghamton’s various concerts. “I am impressed by Kristina’s rapport with members of the women’s choir,” he said. “They are a happy and tight group, which is obvious when you see them perform.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08