Joseph Hillesheim graduated from SJU in 2013 with a degree in Flute Performance.
“I am currently working on the administrative team for Cantus – an eight member, men’s vocal ensemble. As a student, I didn’t intend to pursue administrative work in a nonprofit; I initially considered graduate school in music. So my current position was unexpected. I moved to Minneapolis after graduation and needed a job! After a few part-time and temp roles, I landed at Cantus where I’ve been for the past two years. Though I’m not performing at the moment, my experience in the CSB/SJU Music Department launched me into the world ready to engage knowledgeably and professionally with the music around me. I live and work a short walk from Orchestra Hall – and am still reminded of the insight and joy of the CSB/SJU music faculty whenever I hear the orchestra play.
“On the day-to-day level, I’ve found that my favorite part of my job is the relationship building that I help to facilitate. From my position in Cantus, that means nourishing relationships between donors, patrons, board members, and my colleagues. But overall, I get the most satisfaction from my job when I hear Cantus perform. I’m always in awe and always reminded of the ways in which music creates a window for legitimate contact between people. Cantus – through song and storytelling – reminds audiences of their human similarities. And that’s an achievement that I’m proud to support. I’m not making the music, but I’m helping to make the music happen.
“I don’t think I could be an arts administrator without also being an artist. The CSB/SJU music department made me a better musician, and whether I’m creating music or appreciating it, I draw on the skills I learned at CSB/SJU. I am particularly grateful, however, to have grown as a musician in the context of a liberal arts institution. While I may not have predicted that my path would lead to my current role with Cantus, my education equipped me with a set of highly transferable skills, including the ability to continue learning. Nonprofit administrators face a complex set of challenges. They play the vital role of carving out a space for art in a world of product and profit. It seems nearly impossible at times. But as a SJU, music department [alumnus], I feel compelled and prepared to make music happen – even amidst complication and noise.”