While most students confine themselves to study spaces across campus, senior Jeremy Sexton has spent his last weeks on campus composing not one, but two pieces for upcoming performances. All while studying for his final exams.
Sexton, a music in the liberal arts and mathematics double major with a minor in Latin, has spent his time at Wake Forest taking advantage of all that these departments have to offer. Studying music at Wake Forest, Sexton said, has given him the opportunity to explore a wide variety of areas within it.
“I’ve really enjoyed the chance to explore all these different facets of music,” Sexton said. “At a lot of places, performance is really emphasized. But here you can perform, you can take academic classes and study music theory and composition. I’ve taken a course in conducting and orchestration. That’s really what I love about it.”
Outside of the classroom, Sexton is an active member of the wind ensemble, orchestra and brass quintet ensembles on campus. Whenever the theater department puts on a musical, Sexton can also be found in the pit playing the trumpet.
This experience with music in all forms has led Sexton from his hometown of Winston-Salem to musically and culturally rich cities across Italy on two separate occasions.
In the fall of his junior year, Sexton studied abroad at the Casa Artom house with 20 other Wake Forest students on the arts and entrepreneurship program. With his trumpet by his side, Sexton participated in the impromptu house “jam sessions” that he fondly recalled were frequent during his time in Venice.
“Despite his unbelievable musical ability, he makes everyone feel as if they’re the star” said Nicolette McCann, a fellow senior who studied abroad with Sexton. “He even wrote a piece for the whole house to perform on Thanksgiving for our guests. He made sure to include a part for everyone because that’s just the kind of guy Jeremy is — never letting anyone feel left out.”
For five weeks the following summer, Sexton used the Italian that he picked up during his semester abroad when he traveled back to Italy — this time to Rome on a Richter scholarship to study ancient Roman brass instruments for the development of his senior thesis.
“I think it gave me a lot of good experience in planning my own research project and how to make an itinerary and do things in a methodical way,” Sexton said.
This coming summer, Sexton will share the research that sent him abroad and informed his senior thesis at conferences in Edinburgh, Scotland and New York.
Sexton is also the recipient of the prestigious Beinecke Scholarship, which will fund his graduate study as a musicologist pursuing his Ph.D at Duke for at least the next five years. The Scholarship is awarded to just 20 students annually from 125 institutions given the opportunity to nominate one student showing promise in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Sexton is the fourth Beinecke Scholar from Wake Forest.
“Jeremy is quite simply one of the most brilliant undergraduate students I have encountered in 40 years of teaching at the college/university level,” said Stewart Carter, Sexton’s first music professor at Wake Forest and mentor for his senior thesis. “He is a self-starter with an outstanding ability in independent research.”
At the completion of the combined Masters and Ph.D program , Sexton hopes to teach music history and theory at a university or college.
“I’m going to miss the department because it’s a small and tight knit group of people,” Sexton said, reflecting on his own collegiate experience. “I’ve gotten to know my professors as friends and that has really been special.”