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ITALIC Cantor Event, June 9, 2015  by Rod Searcey via SALLIE

My ITALIC Story: Tori Testa

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ITALIC Cantor Event, June 9, 2015  by Rod Searcey via SALLIE


As I exited the ITALIC Lecture Theater (a bright, acoustic space which just so happened to be mere steps from my dorm room) for the first time, I remember feeling an absolute sense of bewilderment. For the first day, each ITALIC professor and section leader had taken the stage to discuss a piece of art that was particularly meaningful to them and how it helped them answer the question: “What is art?” From comics and classic musicals to quartets and cognition, each piece seemed to stand for a different but no less important artistic interpretation and definition. In only an hour and fifteen minutes, I felt so utterly astounded and thoroughly challenged that I couldn’t stop grinning, a constant phenomenon in ITALIC.

I studied vocal music at LaGuardia Arts High School where I discovered my love of opera and classical music. I was thrilled when I first heard we were going on a trip to see La Boheme by Puccini at the San Francisco Opera. I was awash with excitement as we posed for an obligatory photo on the regal theater steps. My classmates seemed excited, yet some were clearly skeptical about such an old art form. However, each took the new artistic experience in stride, and I simply dazzled at the astounding opportunity to witness such a thrilling creative triumph. I laughed, I cried, I (quietly) sang along. All with my fellow classmates, artist, and friends by my side. It was a truly magical moment only heightened by the lively conversation on the bus ride back and the frequent singing of Musetta’s Waltz.

After every ITALIC lecture (either hosted by our wonderful faculty or a phenomenal guest lecturer), all ITALIC students, professors, and guests meet at the Burbank lunch tables to further discuss the topics of our readings, lectures, or other artistic ideas. It was truly marvelous having such frequent access to the wonderful minds behind the ITALIC program. Even after our lunch hours, conversations among students about topics ranging from mimetic tendencies in art to the art of burlesque occurred daily. The questions surrounding art, what it means to society, why we do it, and endless other conversations are blissfully unanswerable. It was incredibly vital to my freshman experience to feel truly limitless in the my creativity and philosophies. A wise director once told me that we perform plays so that we can play. ITALIC reminded me that for all the philosophy and strife art can be filled with fun and that fun can truly change the world. 

ITALIC has been an integral part of my Stanford experience. After four years at a performing arts high school in New York City, I was worried about my move to Silicon Valley. However, with ITALIC on my course list, I felt as though I never left. My fellow classmates astounded me with their creativity everyday, whether in incredibly well-fashioned (and fun) final projects or during impromptu jam sessions in the cafeteria. ITALIC taught me that art is infinite and indescribable, an entity transcending words. Yet, if I had to choose one to sum up my ITALIC experience, it would be home.

Tori Testa

Class of 2018

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