Jodi Hitzhusen (’03): Music director, teacher, performer
November 25, 2013
Ever since her first piano lesson as a 3-year-old growing up in the Midwest, Jodi Hitzhusen has fostered a love for music. Today, that love is taking the 2003 Evangel University alumna around the country, and around the world.
Hitzhusen currently serves as music director at Village Church in Wellesley, Massachusetts, lead teacher of voice and piano at MJ’s Music School, performer with the Voci Angelica Trio, freelance composer and singer-songwriter.
While growing up in Sioux City, Iowa, Hitzhusen began taking piano lessons before she could read and added voice lessons at 10. She also enjoyed reading and writing, which prompted her to begin seeking colleges where she could double major in Music and English.
Hitzhusen says she visited Evangel “on a whim” while checking out other private Christian colleges in the Midwest.
“Once I met some of the music and English faculty, I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” she says.
During her time at Evangel, she played and sang in several ensembles, led worship in Chapel, worked as a writing tutor in the Write Place and was secretary of Evangel’s chapter of the Alpha Chi national honor society. Hitzhusen was also chosen to be in Springfield Regional Opera’s Young Artist Program to sing the lead role of Pamina in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”
“Being a Young Artist with Springfield Opera was probably one of the most influential experiences,” she says. “It gave me the confidence and motivation to audition for some of the top music master’s programs across the U.S.”
A student with diverse interests, Hitzhusen says she first decided to seriously pursue a professional career in music following a conversation with her Evangel piano professor, Dr. Linda Ligate.
“Dr. Ligate sat me down and told me that I was spreading myself too thin trying to do so many things and that I needed to pick one thing to focus on and give myself to wholeheartedly,” she says. “Dr. Ligate said that if I did that and then realized it wasn’t the right path, I could always change direction. That was some of the most valuable advice I ever received.”
It was that advice that influenced Hitzhusen’s decision to audition at the New England Conservatory with voice as her primary instrument. She was accepted, and following her graduation from Evangel in 2003, Hitzhusen made the move from the Ozarks to Massachusetts, where she still lives today.
“I was better prepared than a lot of my classmates at New England Conservatory because I had such good training at Evangel,” she says. “I knew God had opened the door for me to be in Boston, and I had a lot of faith and prayer support from the Midwest.”
Hitzhusen attended NEC and earned her Master of Arts in Vocal Performance with a concentration in Music Education. Right after completing her master’s, she was hired as church music director at Village Church and as a private music instructor.
In 2007, Hitzhusen co-founded the Voci Angelica Trio, a world music group consisting of her and two of her friends from the conservatory. The trio creates arrangements of world folk music for two voices, cello and percussion. So far, the trio has released one five-song CD and has completed tours of the Midwest and Japan.
“The trio has a strong humanitarian focus,” Hitzhusen says. “We see ourselves as musical ambassadors who bring cultural awareness to our audiences.”
Hitzhusen says the trio also has a school outreach program that teaches children about the history, languages, culture, geography, music and instruments of six continents.
Hitzhusen also composes music on her own. In March of 2013, she visited Evangel University to perform songs she had arranged based on the Psalms.
When she’s not doing music, Hitzhusen enjoys yoga and going indoor rock climbing and running with her husband, David, who is a competitive track runner. Hitzhusen says she also enjoys traveling and experiencing the local side of each place she goes.
“My bags are always packed,” she says. “Traveling is the perfect opportunity to gather music and instruments from around the world.”
Hitzhusen says her advice for students is for them to be like sponges while at college.
“Soak up everything your professors have to teach you, and don’t waste the time you have,” she says. “I realize that college is a chance to meet new friends and have fun, but primarily it is a chance to learn about the world and explore your faith in the same place. That doesn’t happen everywhere.”