Today: Jul 17, 2024

Army veteran hopes to one day become a professor

Photo courtesy Jason Kizis
Kizis got into theater after watching a Cirque du Soleil show.

JON MORENOArts & Entertainment Editor

Jason Kizis is senior music at Southern.  He was quickly influenced by a Cirque du Soleil show and he knew then that he had to get into the arts. Whether it’d be music, theater, or dance, Kizis says he knew he had to involve himself with performance.

Q. First off, how did Southern become your school of choice? Bring us back. Also, what’s your major, year, give us the basics to what makes you tick and makes you unique.

A. I’m a senior music major. I went to Naugatuck Valley Community College for my associate’s degree. There, most people who left went to West Conn, which has developed a bit of a reputation for creating bad musicians. I didn’t want that, so I took a chance and decided on Southern, and actually, it’s worked out fairly well. My primary instrument is voice. I study specifically as a countertenor, which is basically singing in your falsetto. When you hear a recording of a major choral work by Bach or Handel, there’s a good chance the altos and sopranos are male. This technique harkens back to when choirs were exclusively men. That’s just how it was done back then. Recreationally, I’m a gamer, always have been. The vast majority of video game music, from the 1980s through today, follows the style of the Baroque and Classical periods. I’m sure Mozart would have loved the iconic Mario theme.

Q. How did it all start for you, what was the first moment that you realized music is a passion for you and what made you pursue it to this point? 

A. I had never had any music experience before 2005. Then one day, I happened to stumble upon a Cirque du Soleil show on TV. It impressed me so I started going to live shows. I was so entranced by this mix of music, art, dance, and theatre that I knew I had to somehow get into the arts. I promptly changed my major of graphic design at the time to music and started taking private lessons.

Q. Who are some of your favorite artists and how have they influenced you musically or personally?

A. My favorite artist is a countertenor named Erik Karol. He was the original singer of Cirque du Soleil’s “Dralion,” and currently tours with his own group and records. Of all the singers I’ve ever heard or met, his voice is the most unique, and I try to emulate that, use him as a standard to follow.

Q. Where would you like to take the music you do? Are you a solo artist or part of a band or group? Are you trying to get a deal somewhere or is this simply for the love?

A. You know, if I could have a tour with Cirque du Soleil as a vocalist, that’d be a dream come true. I’d like to record for movie and game soundtracks, put my voice in the media. Eventually, I’d like to teach at the college level.

Q. Who has influenced you most in life (not musically) and how so? What would you like to tell this person?

A. My roomate, John Zurlo, is a tenor and organist of excellent skill. We met about five years ago and have worked and plotted mischief together ever since. He convinced me to quit working at a job I hated and focus exclusively on school. It was a good decision. I’d tell him thanks, and don’t change my damn channel.

Q. What is your advice to local artists trying to get their music heard or just feel discouraged sometimes? What do you do to get yourself out of a rut if you are ever in one, musically?

A. Go to college if you can, learn as much as possible, practice and develop your skills. Talk to people in the field, most college music professors are also performers and you never know if any of your fellow students can help you network. If a problem comes up for me, sometimes an ally in the music field knows a solution.

Q. What is something about you that most people don’t know? It can be music related or not.

A. I’m a US Army Veteran.

Q. What are you plans once you graduate from Southern?

A. I plan on continuing in a Master’s program after graduating from SCSU. I’d like to teach in a college some day.

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