Rejuvenating the performing arts

Getting back into the swing of things with music professor Elizabeth Pacheco Rose

Rejuvenating the performing arts

Taylor Schutt, Staff Writer

As I anxiously walked towards room M206 in Upper Scales, I was instantly relaxed by the warm, charming and beautiful Elizabeth Pacheco Rose. Similar to her last name, Rose greeted me with beauty and spunk that was only slightly intimidating. Rose’s personality lit up the room, and her ambition struck me with awe.

While standing in front of a full-body mirror, Rose tells me to get into my singing stance. Immediately, I obey her instructions by spreading my feet hips-length apart, straightening my posture, opening my chest and leveling my head.

A year and a half ago, this would not have been possible. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, being closer than six feet away from a stranger was unheard of — and don’t even think about touching their torso!

For Rose and many others in the performing arts, COVID-19 destroyed any hopes of performing in front of a live audience for months. Then, years.

As a performer, instructor, mother and wife, Rose has dealt with the ups and downs of the global pandemic from a variety of different angles. In March 2020, Rose was a week from the opening night of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” when everything shut down.

“It was a cast of [about] 50 people using the Winston-Salem Symphony,” Rose said. “It was going to be such a beautiful thing for our community, so that was a real heartbreak.”

After the first cancellation, all of the other shows followed. It was a dreadful domino effect that caused the arts to lose thousands and thousands of dollars. One after another, Rose saw her hopes and goals fade away.

Likewise, Rose’s husband, Saxton, is also a performer and instructor at the North Carolina School of the Arts. As the Dean of Music and a “rockstar” bassoonist, COVID-19 hit Saxton with the same vigor as it had his wife.

“It’s never been about the money for me, I would have never entered this career,” Rose said. “But between me and my husband, all of our freelance work was just gone and it’s really hard to talk about.”

Rose and her husband attempted to come to terms with the situation through online lessons over Zoom. Similar to online school, it just wasn’t the same for Rose or her students.

Now, back for her ninth year as a visiting assistant professor at Wake Forest, Rose truly loves that her lessons and performances are somewhat normal again with the return of live audiences. Rose’s first performance since the start of the pandemic was Adam Guettel’s “The Light in the Piazza” in June 2021 on Lake Michigan.

With an extensive background in the performing arts, Rose knows what she’s talking about. Her mother, who is a spectacular pianist, raised Rose and her six siblings in theatre and music. Rose pursued opera in college and perfected her skills and accent during her stay in Italy.

Rose not only focuses on the sound her students produce but also works on their performance techniques, posture and breathing. In her performance classes, Rose helps students to loosen up, allowing them  to settle their nerves and let their smiles shine.

Rose teaches her students in a kind, motherly manner that always makes them feel appreciated. She praises her students every chance she gets because she truly believes in each and every one of them.

Many of her students and colleagues would say that Rose follows the saying carpe diem. Despite a global pandemic, Rose persevered. Rose makes every student, every lesson, every song and every day feel special.